Posted on August 4, 2016

By Susanna Loeb and Heather Hough

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), replacing the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), requires each state to establish an accountability system, returning much authority to the states in the design of the systems. As part of this increased state control, ESSA includes a new waiver authority for states. While the waiver provision has received little attention in public discussions, it provides perhaps the best opportunity for states—especially those states with lower capacity education departments—to make the use of their well functioning and most innovative districts to improve the design and implementation of their new accountability system.

The waiver provision (ESSA sec. 8013) allows districts to request of the state, and then the state to request of the Department of Education, a waiver to ESSA provisions, including the accountability provisions. ESSA states that this waiver should be granted as long as the state provides sufficient information to demonstrate how the waiving of such requirements will advance student academic achievement and provides plans for adequate evaluation to ensure review and continuous improvement.

Why is the waiver provision important?…

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