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State amends No Child Left Behind waiver 

By Paige Clark

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz submitted the state's one-year extension application with a series of amendments on the No Child Left Behind waiver Monday.

"I am proud to submit this waiver request," Ritz said. "The request represents countless hours of work put in by the Indiana Department of Education."

The state was evaluated in August 2013 on how well it complied with the waiver. The Department of Education was scheduled to hear back from the U.S. Department of Education within 45 days, but because of the government shutdown the results were delayed until spring, which put state officials into a rush to meet federal expectations. The superintendent was alerted in May that there were several problems with the state's current waiver.

The No Child Left Behind waiver allows schools to utilize 20 percent of their federal dollars in a flexible format. Without it, the state would lose the flexibility on those dollars and face tougher accountability standards.

The waiver allows Indiana to set different state standards for education without having to fully comply with the standards set by the federal law.

"I believe that Hoosier schools will have much needed flexibility over how they use some of their federal funding," Ritz said. "Most importantly, this flexibility will improve education for our students."

To comply with the waiver, the state will only have seven months to transition to the new curriculum. In the past, the state was given more than a year. Indiana lawmakers this year repealed the controversial Common Core standards and the education board approved its own standards.

The new state standards are a combination of Common Core, the state's previous standards and work from other states and subject matter experts. They represent the skills or knowledge a student should know - without assigning a method for teaching that skill.

Originally, students were to be tested on those standards in the 2015-2016 school year. But Ritz said federal officials are insisting they be implemented in 2014-2015 and that's "non-negotiable."

Indiana schools need to know if they face financial restrictions before the start of the upcoming school year and it is suspected the U.S. Department of Education will respond to the state's waiver request by the end of July.

Paige Clark is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.

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