The U.S. Department of Education has turned down Iowa’s No Child Left Behind waiver request, according to a letter sent to Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass that was made public Thursday.
Thirty-seven states have requested waivers from certain provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, Iowa among them. Each of the 11 states that applied in the first round -- announced earlier this year -- eventually received a waiver, and so far eight of the 26 in the second round have had their requests granted.
No request had been rejected outright until Iowa, though Vermont elected to drop out of the process entirely. Even in turning down the bid, however, Education Department officials expressed interest in continuing to work with Iowa on its request.
“The letter very carefully does not say 'denied,’” Glass told Education Week. "It says 'cannot be approved at this time.'"
The decision does not come as much of a surprise, as Iowa did not satisfy requirements for the waiver by failing to enact a teacher evaluation system that allowed for teachers and principals to be put into at least three categories: not effective, effective and highly effective.
Furthermore, granting Iowa a waiver despite its failure to comply with established conditions would have presumably elicited backlash from Mitt Romney and other Republicans.
At the same time, Iowa represents a swing state that President Barack Obama is actively courting in his re-election bid. Not to mention Iowa’s congressional delegation includes Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who oversees both the committee that sets K-12 policy, and the panel that decides on education spending.
Iowa's experience "is another example of why [the Elementary and Secondary Education Act] needs to be reauthorized, so all states can receive the relief they need from the current requirements of No Child Left Behind," Harkin said in a statement.