New Jersey granted one-year extension to improve student achievement

Craig D. Frazier | 11/13/2014, 1:49 p.m.

New Jersey has been granted a one-year extension of the waiver freeing the state from some requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, the Obama administration announced last week. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the extension allows states to continue to implement reforms to improve student achievement.

“New Jersey has put several changes into place that go beyond the law’s requirements,” he said. “That includes establishing a model curriculum divided into smaller learning units that are aligned to college- and career-readiness standards.”

The extension, one of more than two dozen granted to states by the Obama administration in recent months, runs through the end of the 2014-2015 school year. If the state chooses to apply to renew the extension in the spring of 2015, it will have to show how school districts will address students in all low-income schools that do not meet certain targets.

New Jersey Acting Education Commissioner David Hespe said the extension will “allow us to intensify our efforts to improve education for the children who need it most.”

To receive flexibility from No Child Left Behind, states must adopt and have a strong plan to implement college- and career-ready standards. States must also create comprehensive systems of teacher and principal development, as well as evaluation and support that include factors beyond test scores, such as principal observation, peer review, student work or parent and student feedback. States receiving waivers must set new performance targets to improve student achievement and close achievement gaps.

“This is good news for New Jersey, and it is a tribute to the exemplary efforts by every educator in the state,” Hespe said in a statement.

No Child Left Behind has been due for reauthorization since 2007, but Congress has not been able to agree on what changes should be made. In March of 2010, the Obama administration sent Congress a blueprint for reform of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, addressing the issues created by No Child Left Behind while continuing to shine a bright light on closing the achievement gap.