Feds approve Indiana's NCLB waiver

INDIANAPOLIS - The U.S. Department of Education has approved a one-year extension of Indiana's waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind education law after the state addressed concerns over how it monitored low-performing schools and evaluated teachers and principals.

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Federal officials announced the extension Thursday. The state was told in April that its waiver was in jeopardy over its failure to follow through on promises made in its initial waiver plan.

The initial plan was submitted by former Republican schools Superintendent Tony Bennett. His successor, Democrat Glenda Ritz, submitted a revised waiver.

"America's schools and classrooms are undergoing some of the largest changes in decades—changes that will help prepare our students with the critical thinking and problem-solving skills that tomorrow's economy will require," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. "This extension will allow the states to continue the critical work of implementing the bold reforms they developed to improve achievement for all students."

The waiver plays a critical role in determining how much say the state has in how millions of federal Title I dollars are spent.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence praised the decision in a statement released Thursday.

“The approval of Indiana’s waiver request is great news for Indiana students and schools," Pence said. "It gives us the ability to maintain local control of how federal education dollars are invested and to maintain the use of Indiana’s A-F school accountability system. The waiver also allows school districts and teachers to educate students in a manner determined by Hoosier educators and families in their local communities."

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