Duncan's department can adjust this, though, when states return to the Education Department seeking to continue running their schools outside of No Child Left Behind's rules. Duncan's hall passes only last one year and states face the threat of returning to No Child Left Behind's requirements if they don't execute their improvements plans.
The Education Department has already warned Kansas, Oregon and Washington state that their exemptions are at risk for the 2014-15 academic year if the schools there don't deliver on their applications' promises.
"They can get stricter to make sure the accountability happens in states and trigger the interventions that were in place under No Child Left Behind," said Hernandez, whose coalition includes the NAACP, the National Urban League and the National Council of La Raza.
In 2011, the Education Department announced that states could petition Duncan for waivers from No Child Left Behind's ambitious requirements, such as having all students read and count at grade level by 2014 or else risk their federal funding.
Duncan had hoped the specter of waivers would compel Congress to update No Child Left Behind, which expired in 2007 without renewal.
"The same year that No Child Left Behind came out, the iPod came out," Petrilli said. "We're still on No Child Left Behind, version 1.0, and we've had new versions of the iPod, iPhone, iPad."
Various rewrites of the law have been discussed but none has made its way to the White House for a president's signature. The Republican-led House has passed a version; a rewrite has been completed in the Senate education panel but no vote of the full body has been scheduled.
"NCLB is six years overdue for an update, and nearly all agree that it should be replaced with a law that gives systems and educators greater freedom while continuing to fulfill the law's original promise," Duncan wrote in Sunday's Washington Post.
"In the months ahead, I will ask Congress to listen to those doing the real work of education change," he added.
On the Web: http://www.highschoolequity.org/images/WaiversReport_R8.pdf
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