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After Wash. Loses NCLB Waiver, Feds Show Leniency To Other States

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
Washington state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn speaks during a session at the annual AP Legislative Preview, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash.

Washington may be the only state to lose control over millions in federal education funding over its failure to pass a new teacher evaluation system, at least in the near future. 

Less than a month after Washington state became the first state to lose its waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act, the feds are showing leniency to other states, according to a report by Education Week. Those states passed laws creating teacher evaluation systems that they're now struggling to implement. 

But state officials say that leniency will not extend as far as Washington, which failed to pass a similar law.

Despite Troubles, Feds To Renew Other States' Waivers

In their decision to revoke Washington's waiver, the feds cited the Washington Legislature's inability to pass a law requiring statewide test scores to play a part in teacher evaluation results, as the waiver terms demanded. (The state does have a law on the books, but doesn't mandate districts use common test data in teachers' evaluations.)

Other states passed laws creating evaluation systems that meet the waiver's terms, Washington's top elected school official said Friday, but are having trouble rolling them out. The feds' announcement, laid out in an email to officials in various states, indicates the U.S. Department of Education will renew their waivers despite those troubles.

Should Washington Get More Time, Too?

The announcement has no bearing on Washington's waiver loss, Superintendent Randy Dorn said Friday. But if other states are getting more time to implement teacher evaluation laws, should Washington get more time to make changes to theirs?

"I would venture to guess the feds believe this is very fair," Dorn said. "I think Washington, because we're the only ones who've gotten the waiver revoked, could say that it isn't fair. But I've been in politics a long time. It's a contact sport, and whatever sport you play, the ball bounces different ways, and it's not always fair in your mind."

Dorn added he's still open to finding a "solution," but the waiver situation won't change until the next legislative session.

In the past, Dorn has indicated it's highly unlikely the state Legislature would pass the changes to the state's teacher evaluation system that federal officials want.

Kyle Stokes covers the issues facing kids and the policies impacting Washington's schools for KPLU.