NJ’s No Child Left Behind Waiver Approved

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Federal officials have approved New Jersey’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver application.

The Christie Administration’s NCLB application, submitted in November, is part of a broader effort to reform the state’s overlapping and contradictory accountability systems and a comprehensive education reform agenda to increase academic standards, the effectiveness and talent of educators, and accountability for results in the classroom. Implementing the reforms outlined in the waiver makes New Jersey a leader in developing a new and more meaningful accountability system to better identify troubled schools, diagnose the causes of their struggles, and target our resources to improve the lowest-performing schools, according to officials from the governor’s administration.

“We are once again proving that New Jersey is leading the way on the issues that matter most to our children’s future and our shared future as a state and nation. The Obama Administration’s approval of our education reform agenda contained in this application confirms that our bold, common sense, and bipartisan reforms are right for New Jersey and shared by the President and Secretary Duncan’s educational vision for the country,” said Gov. Chris Christie. “This is not about Democrats or Republicans – it is about pursuing an agenda in the best interest of our children whose educational needs are not being met, and those who are getting a decent education but deserve a great one.”

“Broader opportunities for education improvement and reform will result from the U.S. Department of Education’s approval of New Jersey’s application for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind requirements,” said New Jersey School Boards Association Executive Director Marie S. Bilik.
Among other changes through this waiver, New Jersey schools will no longer be subject to NCLB accountability provisions and sanctions required for not making Adequately Yearly Progress (AYP). Instead, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) will implement a more nuanced accountability system beginning in September 2012 that measures schools based on both growth and absolute attainment, and that focuses state resources on drastically improving those schools that are persistently failing and/or have large achievement gaps.

“During the past year, I heard from countless educators that the flaws of NCLB limited their ability to identify and improve areas of need in their schools. In partnership with educators across the state, we developed a new accountability system that will measure schools in part on what matters most – how much growth they make in a given year,” said Acting New Jersey Department of Education Commissioner Chris Cerf. “In doing so, we will give unprecedented freedom to those schools that are doing well to continue to achieve without state or federal intervention. We will also be able to identify the 15 percent of schools that need the most help and make sure we target our resources to turning them around.”

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