NJ Education Group Asks Feds to Delay Decision on No Child Left Behind

A prominent education organization in New Jersey is criticizing the state's application for a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law.

The waiver application was filed by the state in November to the federal Department of Education, and seeks a release from stringent rules about raising test scores by promising reforms. 

David Sciarra, director of the Education Law Center, has written to Education Secretary Arne Duncan asking New Jersey's application be delayed until the state addresses several concerns.

“The main problem is these are substantial changes that are being called for and there was no opportunity for any public review and comment on the application,” Sciarra said.  The state only made a draft of the waiver application available for public review and took no comments from teachers, school boards or parents, he said.

The waiver process requires states to explain how it will evaluate teachers, test children and address the needs of high poverty schools. Sciarra said the New Jersey application lacks details in how any of this would be accomplished, a finding that was also cited in a report by the Center for American Progress in Washington.

However, the New Jersey Department of Education maintains they “took an aggressive approach” to obtain input in the development of the waiver. In October 2011, they posted the guidance documents from the U.S. Department of Education on the NJDOE website and asked for feedback from teachers and the general public before developing the initial plan.