The Obama administration announced today that five states—Delaware, Georgia, Minnesota, New York and South Carolina—have received a one-year extension for flexibility from certain provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

This was announced last Thursday, July 31st.

Since fall 2011, Delaware, Georgia, Minnesota, New York and South Carolina have implemented education reforms that go far beyond the Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s rigid, top-down requirements. Examples of that work include:

Delaware:

Through ESEA flexibility, Delaware enhanced its process for monitoring the lowest performing schools, and worked closer with districts that missed performance targets, including graduation rates, to ensure that the needs of their students were met.

Delaware is providing extensive in-person and online support for local staff to implement its new teacher and leader evaluation and support systems, including support through targeted and frequent trainings, both in-person and online, for evaluators, principals and teachers.

Georgia:

Through ESEA flexibility, Georgia created a comprehensive platform for school improvement, accountability, teacher effectiveness and communication that creates a roadmap for schools to significantly improve student achievement.

Georgia added student performance in social studies and science to its statewide accountability system to provide an enriched and more complete picture for each school’s accountability score.

Georgia created a professional development program with a mix of online and in-person training to support teachers in implementing new college- and career-ready standards, and established online forums to help teachers across the state share resources, lesson plans and best practices.

Minnesota:

Minnesota is monitoring and providing direct feedback to districts and schools to continue improvement under ESEA flexibility through new Regional Centers of Excellence. Educators meet weekly for training and to share progress reports with a state oversight committee.

Minnesota has implemented a new system to provide data on non-academic risk factors to high schools to support improved graduation rates.

New York:

New York built a nationally recognized online portal—Engage NY—that provides professional learning tools and resources to support educators in reaching the state’s vision for a college- and career-ready education for all students.

Through ESEA flexibility, New York has better aligned the funds districts will use to support focus and priority schools with the results of its Diagnostic Tool for School and District Effectiveness and improvement plans.

South Carolina:

To empower communities and educators to improve the quality of instruction, South Carolina has instituted an innovative set of data dashboards to track and use educational data.

South Carolina created a new accountability system which provides school administrators, parents and communities user-friendly data on school performance. Each school receives a grade based on an A-to-F grading scale that reflects the performance of all students and subjects allowing the state to accurately target the schools most in need of improvement with truly meaningful interventions.

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Analysis: reading through the claims, one can only say this is puff piece. The implementations put in place are extremely basic. Granting these waivers now is like giving an art award to a kindergartener who because she was capable of using crayons and scribble on her coloring book. All of Delaware’s items we’re in place under Governor Minner long before Common Core was invented..

It should be noted that, of these 5, Georgia almost pulled out of Common Core; South Carolina did, Minnesota only wen in half way for free funding, keeping their own standards for math. New York pursued Common Core aggressively creating the backlash that seems provide enough evidence to doom Common Core altogether…. And in Delaware, students piloted on Common Core fell behind students not on Common Core…

This announcement by the US Department of Education, can only be seen as a cheap attempt to grab a headline. There is nothing new or substantial here… Especially when you get to the bottom of their presser and see this:

Forty-three states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico currently have ESEA flexibility, 35 of which expire this summer. Of those, 31 submitted an extension request. Eight other states: Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Maryland, Nevada, South Dakota and Virginia have been granted extensions since July 3.

Our Department of Education just takes up space.

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