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Texas “Very Unlikely” To Seek NCLB Waiver This Year

Texas Education Agency is headquartered in the William B. Travis Building in Austin.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News
Texas Education Agency is headquartered in the William B. Travis Building in Austin.

The Texas Education Agency is waiting until the federal government rolls out more details in September before deciding whether to seek a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law.

NCLB is a federal academic accountability law that rates schools and districts on students’ performance on standardized tests. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan warned in May that 82 percent of schools could be labeled “failing” this year, unless changes are made. Austin ISD is one of the “failing” school districts.

“It is highly unlikely [Texas] would apply for 2011, because we’ve already issued those ratings,” TEA spokesperson Debbie Ratcliffe told KUT News.

Ratcliffe said Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott will wait until the U.S. Department of Education releases information on what strings are attached to such a waiver before deciding whether to pursue it.

The Obama administration has signaled it would allow states “to seek relief” from key provisions of the federal academic accountability law, “provided that they are willing to embrace education reform.”

That “embrace” of education reform could include a requirement that states adopt federal curriculum guidelines known as the Common Core State Standards.

Such a requirement would be a deal breaker for Texas.

“That’s exactly one of the kind of issues we need to know more about,” Ratcliffe said. “Texas is not going to do the common core curriculum standards. If that’s a requirement to get this waiver, then we can’t do it.”

Texas has been reluctant to sign on to the feds’ common core standards, despite participation by a majority of other states, because it sees the standards as federal intrusion into state jurisdiction. The Texas Education Agency has also said that its standards are superior.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.
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