US Department of Education grants Indiana No Child Left Behind waiver

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The United States Department of Education granted a waiver to Indiana for the No Child Left Behind Law on Thursday afternoon.

The waiver allows Indiana schools more flexibility on how they will spend $200 million in federal funding to help low-income students.

Federal officials placed the state’s waiver on conditional status earlier this year in light of “significant issues” found with the state’s monitoring of troubled schools and the implementation of academic standards and evaluations.

“It’s a huge relief for Indiana schools, and all those who are a part of it. Students, principals, teachers and most importantly school children,” said State Board of Education member, Gordon Hendry.

The waiver allows Indiana to spend federal funding the way state leaders believe will best serve Hoosier schools. Ritz says that means more personalized student-teacher attention, after school programs and innovative approaches to targeting troubled schools.

“We’re talking remediation, intervention, we’re talking instructional courses, we’re talking personnel that assists children on a one-to-one basis,” said Ritz.

“We’re not having our hands tied by the federal government to address it in a way that might come from Washington but here locally we can identify what the issues are and use those dollars in the way we find best,” said Hendry.

Ritz also hopes the waiver extension sends a message to the State Board of Education.

“I really do hope that trust is developed that through my leadership this department has a very strong support system in for schools,” said Ritz.

One board member can agree the extension is a good place to start there’s still work to be done in order to improve Indiana’s education system.

“How do we address the F schools in our state and how to we make sure those school children aren’t left behind?” said Hendry.

Glenda Ritz, Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction issued the following statement on Thursday:

On behalf of Indiana’s schools, I am incredibly pleased to learn that our waiver request has been granted.  This news means that local schools throughout our state will receive much needed flexibility in how they utilize their federal dollars.  This waiver extension also will allow Indiana to have continued flexibility in how we measure student performance and growth. 

During my time as Superintendent, we have adopted the highest standards in Indiana history, modernized ISTEP and begun the process to strengthen our accountability system.  Additionally, we have put in place a strong and positive grassroots system of outreach and support for Indiana schools.  Today’s decision by the United States Department of Education validates the work that we have done. 

I want to thank the members of the Indiana Department of Education for the incredible work they did to get this waiver for our schools. I truly appreciate their efforts as they work alongside educators, parents, community leaders and local organizations to meet the needs of Indiana’s children. 

I also want to thank Senators Coats and Donnelly, as well as our entire Congressional delegation for their support, as well as leaders in the Statehouse.  Finally, I want to thank Secretary Duncan, Assistant Secretary Deb Delisle and the United States Department of Education for their assistance throughout this application process.

Indiana Govenor Mike Pence also released the following statement on Thursday:

I am pleased that the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Arne Duncan have approved Indiana’s No Child Left Behind waiver request.

The approval of Indiana’s waiver request is great news for Indiana students and schools. 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.

Since being elected Governor, I have consistently said that the Hoosier state needs to vigorously protect our commitment to high standards and to an accountability system that upholds those standards. I have also been clear that we need maximum flexibility under the law to develop our academic standards and accountability measures.

I would like to congratulate Superintendent Ritz and the Indiana Department of Education, members of the State Board of Education and the Education Roundtable, and the many Indiana educators and subject matter experts who contributed to a successful outcome. The collaborative work of all stakeholders involved was instrumental in successfully retaining our waiver.

Indiana will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Education to address any remaining implementation challenges with respect to school and educator accountability requirements, which were established under state law.

With this renewed flexibility, our state will work every day to ensure that all Hoosier children have access to a quality school, that good teachers are rewarded, and that struggling schools get the help they need to improve.

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