ESEA Waiver Overview

Over the last six months, 33 states have received waivers from major provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)--or No Child Left Behind (NCLB)‰--under a program initiated by the United States Department of Education in late 2011. Whiteboard Advisors‰' summary chart features the 26 states whose applications were approved as of mid-July 2012, when this analysis was conducted.

The waivers amount to a fundamental re-write of education accountability and priorities across states. For states awarded waivers, there will be major fiscal and policy implications. States who have received waivers have created diverse models for accountability and new ways to intervene in and provide supports to struggling schools. The waivers also enable states to be more flexible with how they spend certain parts of their Title I money.

In many cases, plans are not 100% complete, and the waiver applications describe components that will need to be finalized over the next several months. States are still working to finalize exactly how they will implement and oversee these new accountability systems. This will require careful planning by state agencies and district/school leaders, and thoughtful partnerships among stakeholders in every sector of the education community.