The State of New Hampshire today -- with strong support from educators at all levels, school districts, local officials and Governor John Lynch -- applied for a federal waiver which would free the state from certain provisions of the No Child Left Behind act.
Proficiency requirements under No Child Left Behind have led to virtually every school district in the state being labeled as failing, hindering efforts to support schools, especially those with the greatest needs. If a waiver is granted, the state would have the flexibility to implement its own innovative accountability system. This would better support students, parents and schools over the next decade, and allow a strong emphasis to be placed on those schools that need help the most.
"We know we have excellent schools in New Hampshire, but under the restrictive provisions of No Child Left Behind, most of our school districts are labeled as 'failing.' Not only is this not accurate, this outdated accountability model is hurting our ability to support schools, especially those with the greatest needs," Governor Lynch said.
"I am pleased we have the broad support of teachers, administrators, local school districts and officials in seeking a waiver that will allow us to put in place a system that is best suited for New Hampshire and its children. Over the next decade, this innovative system will help ensure we are preparing all of our children for college or a career once they graduate from high school," Governor Lynch said.
Governor Lynch sent a letter in support of the waiver to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The NH School Administrators Association, NH Association of School Principals, State Board of Education, Manchester School District, NH Special Education Administrators, NEA-NH, University System of New Hampshire, Community College System of New Hampshire also issued letters in support of the waiver.
"The waiver process reflects a community effort of all stakeholders coming together to focus on what would be best for the most natural resource we have in our state -- our children. It is an opportunity to communicate and have a clear vision of where we see education and the economy working together to support our state's future needs," said state Department of Education Commissioner Virginia Barry.
Governor Lynch's letter to Secretary Duncan follows:
September 6, 2012
Secretary Arne Duncan
Lyndon Baines Johnson
Department of Education Building
400 Maryland Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20202
Dear Secretary Duncan:
In your letter of September 23, 2011, inviting states to submit waiver requests from major provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, you noted, "Over the past few years, States and districts have initiated groundbreaking reforms and innovations to increase the quality of instruction and improve academic achievement for all students." This has certainly been the case here in New Hampshire. During the past eight years, New Hampshire has lowered the high school dropout rate to less than one percent, while continuing to maintain some of the very highest standards for our students. New Hampshire's innovation and progress in reducing dropouts and implementing a student-centered, competency education system has been recognized as a model for other states across the nation.
Despite this progress, New Hampshire school districts are increasingly hampered by inflexible provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act. For this reason, I heartily endorse Commissioner Virginia Barry's waiver request on behalf of New Hampshire. We believe that New Hampshire has developed a ground-breaking waiver application, with an approach that will support our students, parents, and schools, over the next decade, with particular emphasis on schools with the greatest needs. The design of our new accountability system is transformative, with an aim to prepare all of our students for college or a career once they leave high school.
This waiver request has been developed collaboratively, and has broad support from educators and education stakeholders across our state. We appreciate your review of New Hampshire's waiver request, and look forward to a favorable response. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
John H. Lynch