State Superintendent Joins President/USED Secretary For NCLB Waivers Announcement

North Carolina State Superintendent June Atkinson on Friday joined President Barack Obama, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and other chief state school officers for the White House announcement that states can apply for waivers from provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind. The waivers would be provided in exchange for more focused efforts at the state level to “close achievement gaps, promote rigorous accountability and ensure that all students are on track to graduate college and career ready.”

In his announcement, Obama said states can request flexibility from specific NCLB mandates that are stifling reform, but only if they are transitioning students, teachers and schools to a system that is aligned with college and career readiness for all students, developing differentiated accountability systems and undertaking reforms that support effective classroom instruction and school leadership.

State Superintendent June Atkinson said that North Carolina is well-positioned to meet the requirements for these waivers as a result of its Race to the Top Career & College: Ready, Set, Go! initiative. “Next school year we will transition to a new Standard Course of Study, student assessments and an accountability model that better prepares students for college and a career,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson said that North Carolina has already submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Education stating that it would be requesting a waiver to allow the state greater flexibility for meeting the goal of improving schools within an accountability system that is both rigorous and fair. “I have always been a firm supporter of student and school accountability. However, I’ve strongly disagreed with the ‘all or nothing’ concept under No Child Left Behind. Our waiver request will enable us to more accurately reflect our progress toward preparing all students to be college and career ready,” Atkinson said.

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) has been advocating for Congressional action through reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. State Superintendent June Atkinson is a member of the CCSSO’s Board of Directors. CCSSO Executive Director Gene Wilhoit said, “The one-size-fits-all approach of our current system has become a barrier to state-level progress. These waivers are a desperately needed step forward in transforming our education system while we are waiting for the ESEA to be reauthorized.”

The NCDPI intends to submit its waiver request to meet the first submission date of Nov. 14. States may submit waivers on Nov. 14 and mid-February 2012. An additional opportunity will be available following the conclusion of the 2011-12 school year.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 100 charter schools serving over 1.4 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state’s public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.