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Texas to Request No Child Left Behind Waivers

White House

Texas is asking the federal government to waive requirements associated with No Child Left Behind, the signature package of education reforms championed by former President (and former Texas Governor) George W. Bush. The announcement comes after more than half of Texas schools failed to meet the annually escalating standards last school year. 

In a message on the Texas Education Agency website, the new Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams announces plans to submit requests to the U.S. Department of Education waiving provisions in 2001’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, as well as parts of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

"The state recognizes that the lack of NCLB’s reauthorization in a timely manner has created an obsolete system that does not adequately reflect the accomplishments of the state’s schools," the statement reads. "This, combined with [Local Educational Agencies] being required to meet and function within two different assessment and accountability systems, takes valuable resources and time away from the intent and focus of improving student achievement and school accountability.”

Texas was among a handful of states that had not yet requested a waiver. State officials said they were wary of conditions attached to the waiver, namely that Texas adopt national college and career readiness standards.  But in the letter, Commissioner Williams suggests the state already meets those standards.

"Specifically, the state has already fully implemented the Texas College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) and this year is transitioning to a consolidated, differentiated accountability and interventions system," Williams writes.

The news will likely be welcomed by the Austin Independent School District, which was amonga majority of Central Texas school districts that failed to pass NCLB standards last school year.

"We would love to see a waiver on federal accountability," AISD superintendent Meria Carstarphen told KUT News in late-August. "There are some conflicts between the Texas structure and the federal structure, and it would make it a little more clear to everyone how schools were doing if we were looking at one lead accountability system."

Over a dozen waivers may be requested, including a federal measure of adequate yearly progress (AYP). The TEA says the state plans to works on its own accountability system in the meantime, but wishes to waive federal performance targets, and possibly, certain student assessment requirements including standardized tests. 

The TEA is accepting comment on its proposed actions through Sept. 27. 

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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 Twitter @KUTnathan.