NCLB Waiver

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

A proposal to re-write No Child Left Behind — an unpopular federal education law that now labels practically all schools in Washington state as "failing" — began its tightrope-walk through the full U.S. Senate Tuesday.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who helped shepherd the bipartisan proposal through committee, opened debate on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon by calling on her colleagues to "fix this broken law."

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A bid to get back Washington state's waiver from the No Child Left Behind law — and regain for school districts the flexibility to spend $40 million in federal funding that came with that waiver — appears to have hit a dead end in Olympia.

Majority Democrats in the House Education Committee on Thursday blocked a procedural maneuver to force an up-or-down vote on a bill making changes to the state's teacher evaluation system in hopes of convincing federal education officials to give Washington its waiver back.


A Washington State House committee will hear a bill requiring student scores on statewide standardized tests to play a role in teachers' evaluations next week, a member of the committee said Tuesday.

But the proposal from Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, aimed at getting back the state's waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law, has gotten a chilly reception among House lawmakers — and the bill's supporters fear they're running out of time.

Joe Wolf / Flickr

This spring, juniors at Seattle's Nathan Hale High School will not sit for a federally-required standardized test, a leadership team of staff, students and parents at the school decided this week.

The staff's refusal to administer Smarter Balanced Assessments to eleventh-graders would make Nathan Hale the latest Seattle school to thumb its nose at a standardized test and would fly in the face of the nation's tough school accountability law, the No Child Left Behind Act.

Cacophony / Wikimedia Commons


Washington lawmakers are in contempt of court over school funding. But it’s a couple of non-funding issues that could create a partisan rift.

Republicans are back this year with two controversial school reform measures. One would require teacher layoffs to be based on performance, not seniority. The other would make student performance on a statewide standardized test part of a teacher’s annual evaluation.

David Goldman / AP Photo

The impact of Washington's loss of a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act came into sharper focus Wednesday as nearly nine in 10 of the state's schools officially received failing labels despite little change in students' performance on statewide standardized tests.

Just 260 of the state's nearly 2,200 schools met their required yearly progress goals under the outdated federal law, state officials said as they denounced the impractical standard they say Washington schools must now meet.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP Photo

Earlier this year, Washington became the first state in the nation to lose its reprieve from the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Now, Seattle Public Schools wants to become the first district in the nation to regain that flexibility on its own.

Superintendent Jose Banda sent a letter Wednesday asking for a Seattle-specific waiver from the outdated federal law.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

When federal education officials revoked Washington state's waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act, they hung a cloud of uncertainty over the early childhood education programs Tacoma School District offers.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Five-year-old Serenity Johnson has been eager to start preschool since she was 2½ years old.

"She said 'Mommy, I want to go to school,'" her mother, Shantia Johnson, said. "I said, 'You can't go to school until preschool, and we have to pay for preschool. ‘So I needed to find a preschool we didn't have to pay for."

Washington state's waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), a controversial federal education law, helped Serenity get exactly what she wanted. The waiver freed up federal money Tacoma Public Schools officials used to expand its publicly-funded preschool programs to Stafford Elementary, the Johnsons' home school.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pulled Washington state's waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act on Thursday, making it the first state to lose flexibility from the outdated law.

The move revokes Washington school districts' flexibility in spending nearly $40 million in federal funding tied to the law, and replaces many of the 2001 law's most stringent rules designed to hold schools accountable for students' test scores.

"Today’s news from Secretary Duncan is disappointing but not unexpected," Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. "I hope districts will work to mitigate impacts on students. I know that despite this setback Washington teachers remain fully committed to serving our students."

AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

Washington state is at risk of losing nearly $40 million in federal funding after lawmakers left Olympia without passing a teacher evaluation bill.

Without the bill, the state failed to secure a waiver for an onerous requirement under the No Child Left Behind Act. As a result, the fate of federal funding for local preschool programs and extended day services now hinges on what federal education officials decide in coming months.

Here's an explanation of why the lawmakers didn't pass the bill, and where the complex issue now stands.