Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version

October 1999


Published by U.S. Department of Education.


This is the third annual report to Congress on waivers granted by the U.S. Department of Education, mandated under section 14401(e)(4) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Three education laws passed in 1994 — the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, the School-to-Work Opportunities Act, and the reauthorized ESEA — allow the Secretary of Education to grant waivers of certain requirements of federal education programs in cases where a waiver will likely contribute to improved teaching and learning. States and school districts use the waiver authorities to adapt federal programs and use federal funds in ways that address their local needs. The waiver authorities provide additional flexibility to states and school districts in exchange for increased accountability for improving student achievement. The law requires that waiver applicants describe how a waiver would improve instruction and academic performance, and that the waivers conform to the underlying intent and purposes of the affected programs.

This report contains five sections. Section I gives an overview of waivers requested and granted from the establishment of the waiver authorities in 1994 through September 30, 1999. Section II provides details about the focus of the waivers that have been granted. Section III examines the progress school districts and states have made under waivers that have been effective for at least two years, as reported by states to the U. S. Department of Education. Section IV reviews the federal and state roles in the administration of the waiver authorities, and Section V contains some conclusions about how waivers contribute to the broader effort to improve teaching and learning for all students.

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