Two states are "stand out" from a pack of eleven for clarity in focus as they seek approval from the Obama Administration to waive some requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, a U.S. think tank said Tuesday.
Tennessee and Massachusetts were among the states in the first round of application submissions since the Administration offered an opportunity for waivers in March of 2011. The U.S. Department of Education is in the process of evaluating the applications.
The Center for American Progress released an analysis on Tuesday on predicted outcomes and suggested improvements for the first batch of the submitted applications.
CAP noted that the administration had made it clear that states, asking for waivers, should engage in “ambitious but achievable” reforms that are more than requests for clearance from the law, and with this in mind CAP reviewed and rated each of the 11 waivers accordingly.
“While we did not rank or grade the states, the applications from these two states stood out from the rest for their clear goals and ready-to-implement evaluation systems,” CAP said in a report.
The organization established its analysis by examining states’ proposed evaluation and accountability systems. The clarity of goals and accessibility of evaluation systems were determined by the five qualities that emerged from the agency’s analysis: Clarity of goals, clarity of school ratings, inclusion of subgroups, readiness to evaluate educators, and the reduction of burden.
Tennessee and Massachusetts stood out from the rest of the states for “articulating clear and challenging goals, proposing focused school-rating system, and having data infrastructure that will help them implement evaluation systems,” and although the applications possessed notable strengths, it was noted that the two applications still had room for improvement.
The agency rated applications for Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, and New Mexico as “Middle of the pack,” with some positive and some negative points.
Georgia, Kentucky, New Jersey and Oklahoma were ranked to be the lowest in application quality, and the agency said that these states would need to provide more detail before they can be approved.
CAP also offered a few pointers to the Department of Education on evaluation methods for current and future waivers.
The group said the department should take more time in making decisions for applications, ask for more information that requires states to clarify points of accountability and implementation, and proceed with caution by carefully identifying plans that enhance subgroup and school accountability.