A reauthorized ESEA should consider that federal waivers created a wide range of accountability systems.

A new report surveying states that have applied for and received No Child Left Behind waivers finds they are worried that reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) could hinder progress painstakingly made in school reform over the past year.

The report, released by the Center on Education Policy (CEP), notes that last year Education Secretary Arne Duncan began to grant states waivers on key NCLB accountability requirements. The waiver guidelines let states depart from some of NCLB’s more strict requirements, such as judging school performance against a goal of 100 percent of students reaching reading and math “proficiency” by 2014, and implementing specific interventions in schools that fall short of performance targets.

However, states with approved waiver applications must meet several new requirements that relate to standards and assessments, accountability systems, teacher and principal evaluation, and reductions in administrative burden.

As of press time, 34 states and the District of Columbia have received NCLB waivers.

And while many states are satisfied with the NCLB waivers and their revised requirements, many worry what will happen to their new school reform policies if ESEA is reauthorized. The waiver guidelines state that if Congress completes the reauthorization and the president signs it into law, the education secretary may terminate the waivers if they are superseded by the reauthorization provisions.

(Next page: States’ major concerns)