Last week six more states and the District of Columbia were granted waivers from certain provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, bringing the total to 32 states—plus D.C.—that have been granted this flexibility. Five more state applications are under review by the Department of Education, and the remaining states have until September 6 to submit an application. Of the six states granted waivers last week, Arizona, Michigan, South Carolina, and D.C. did not check the box for the optional 11th waiver that allows 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) funds to be used to lengthen the school day, week or year. Kansas, Mississippi and Oregon, however, chose to opt-in to the 11th waiver. In all, 20 out of 32 states receiving waivers have checked the 21st CCLC box; 12 states along with D.C. have not.
Given the potentially high cost of adding time to the school day, the optional 21st CCLC waiver provision could result in fewer communities having access to quality out-of-school programs, enlarging the already significant unmet demand for quality afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs across the country. The department initiated the waiver process last fall to give states flexibility from some of the mandates of the 10-year-old NCLB law in exchange for states implementing standards and accountability reforms.
a state must retain existing 21st CCLC requirements prioritizing school-community partnerships; and the “programming provided through a longer school day, week, or year, must not be ‘more of the same’ but instead should involve careful planning by the eligible entity to ensure that the programs or activities will be used to improve student achievement and ensure a well-rounded education that prepares students for college and careers.”