Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced that Washington state will lose its no child left behind waiver . The reason given is that the state has not included student performance on standardize tests when compiling teacher evaluations.The best way to spend $40 million in federal dollars will not be decided by state leaders, but by federal officials
The federal decision may lead to cuts in some student programs and teacher layoffs, Governor Jay Inslee said.
Washington state is the first to lose one of the waivers granted to 42 other states and the District of Columbia. The waivers are a stopgap until Congress acts to reauthorize the federal framework for the nation’s schools.
Duncan wrote that he appreciated the state’s effort to reform its schools, but said officials there hadn’t done enough to keep the flexibility waiver.
“Washington has not been able to keep all of its commitments,” Duncan wrote.
Washington state has been operating under a conditional waiver for the past two school years, while lawmakers debated changes in state law but could not come to an agreement on teacher evaluations that satisfied the federal government.
Inslee and Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn both called the announcement disappointing but not unexpected.
A Republican lawmaker who chairs the Senate Education Committee blamed the state’s largest teachers union, which fought against changes to the teacher evaluation system.
“This was easily avoidable,” said Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island.
The Washington Education Association said the Legislature did the right thing earlier this year when it opted not to change the state’s teacher evaluation system.
“I can only conclude rescinding the waiver is a failure of federal policy, not of our public schools, students or teachers,” said WEA President Kim Mead in a written statement.
House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, said he was frustrated.
“If the goal was to help students be successful, I’m trying to figure out how the action taken by the Department of Education, how that will lead to better student outcomes,” he said. “You’re penalizing the poorest schools in the state of Washington.”