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Illinois Granted NCLB Waiver

By May 14, 2014April 29th, 2015News

On April 18, 2014, the U.S. Department of Education announced that Illinois has been granted a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act(“NCLB”), the most recent authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (“ESEA”). The waiver comes just in time, as many Illinois school districts face financial penalties under the NCLB.

In September 2011, the U.S. Department of Education announced that state educational agencies could request, on their own behalf and on behalf of their school districts, “flexibility” as to the NCLB requirements in order to better focus on improving student academic achievement and increasing the quality of instruction. This flexibility is provided through the waiver of ten provisions of the NCLB, and the optional waiver of three additional NCLB provisions.

Illinois initially requested ESEA flexibility, i.e., waiver from the NCLB, more than two years ago, in February 2010, but had to stand by and watch as more than 40 other states were granted waivers (and while one has had its previously granted waiver revoked). The hold up to getting the waiver reportedly was the timing of the new teacher evaluation system in Illinois. ESEA flexibility required that newteacher evaluation systems include student progress as one factor and be fully implemented by the 2015-2016 school year. Illinois’ new teacher evaluation law, which was passed in 2010—before ESEA flexibility was announced, called for full implementation of Illinois’ new teacher evaluation system by the 2016-2017 school year.

Illinois has been granted waivers from thirteen provisions of the NCLB, and their corresponding regulatory, administrative, and reporting requirements. One of the key waivers includes:waiver from the requirement to establish a timeline for all students to reach 100% proficiency by the end of the 2013-2014 school year. Now, the Illinois State Board of Education (“ISBE”) may set new annual measurable objectives (“AMOs”) for reading/language arts and mathematics for all LEAs, schools, and subgroups.

In addition, ISBE and Illinois school districts are no longer required to make AYP determinations for school districts and schools, respectively. Instead, ISBE and school districts will include on their report cards performance against the AMOs for all subgroups. Also, school districts are no longer required to comply with the requirement to identify Title I schools for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring, and school districts and schools are relieved from taking the required steps that accompany such identification, including offering public school choice and supplemental educational services.

More information about Illinois’ Request for ESEA flexibility, as granted by the U.S. Department of Education, is available on ISBE’s website located here. More information about ESEAflexibility from the U.S. Department of Education can be found here.

Contact Stephanie Jones or Jennifer Mueller with your NCLB-related inquiries.