The Utah State Board of Education agreed to postpone a decision on whether to apply for an extension to its waiver under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Should Utah not apply for the extension, the state would again be subject to the provisions of NCLB, which could potentially end up labeling all Utah Title I schools – high poverty schools — as not making adequate yearly progress and shifting control of up to $50 million in federal funds targeted to those schools.
The Board will likely take up the issue again during its August 8 meeting, which is likely near the time the application for an extension will be due. Utah is awaiting receipt of a report from the U.S. Department of Education that will start the clock ticking for a 60-day countdown to file for an extension. That report is due at any time, but had not been received by June 6.
Forty-three states, including Utah, are operating under ESEA extensions. ESEA was due for reauthorization in 2007, but has yet to be acted upon in Congress. The Obama administration began offering waivers to states in 2011 to exempt them from provisions of the act which includes having all students proficient in math and reading by 2014.
Members of Utah’s legislative and congressional delegations have raised the question whether Utah should continue to operate on a waiver from ESEA. The Board sought more information from staff on the implications of dropping its waiver.