States that reform their education systems could gain relief from provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act under a plan announced Friday by the U.S. Department of Education.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan told Midwest reporters in a conference call that states that apply for a waiver can have the increased flexibility "in exchange for a real commitment to reform."
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad's administration is expected to unveil a package of proposed education reforms Oct. 3. Jason Glass, director of the Iowa Department of Education, said in a statement that "we support and appreciate" efforts to improve the law.
"Iowa plans on responding to the calls for designing new school accountability systems," Glass said. "We will work with the major groups involved with education in Iowa and state policy makers to design a plan that makes sense for us over the long term. This work may begin before the end of 2011."
Duncan said the waivers can include "thoughtful and creative and nuanced" alternatives to the supplemental services and student transfer options required of schools that fall short of progress goals. He said that could mean "a whole host of options" like lengthening the school day or year and requiring the best teachers to work in schools that are struggling the most.
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