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Originally published Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 7:54 PM

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Washington gets federal warning on teacher evaluations

Washington state has been given what federal education officials say is a final extension on a deadline for bringing the way it evaluates teachers and principals up to federal standards.

The Associated Press

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Federal education officials have told Washington and two other states they have not made good on promises to bring their teacher- and principal-evaluation systems up to federal standards, but have given the states an additional year to finish the work.

The new teacher-evaluation systems were part of the requirements for waivers from the federal law known as “No Child Left Behind.”

If the states meet the requirements of the waiver, they won’t need to have every child meet state academic standards in reading and math by January.

So far, 40 states and the District of Columbia have been granted a one- or two-year reprieve from the requirements of the law, which was passed more than a decade ago. A group of districts in California recently received a different kind of waiver from the requirements.

Washington and the two other states — Oregon and Kansas — had been placed on “high risk status” and were given until the end of the 2012-13 school year to fix the way to include improvement in student test scores as a factor in teacher evaluations.

According to letters from Assistant Secretary Deborah S. Delisle, dated Wednesday, they all failed to meet their original deadlines.

These three states were among 10 given conditional waivers, which means they have to fix some things before getting more permanent flexibility. Of the 10, five passed all their l conditions. Georgia and Arizona are still working on it.

Two other states that received their waivers more recently also will be closely watched over the next year to see if they meet some special conditions: Alabama and Hawaii. But the Department of Education says it is watching every state that has been given a waiver to make sure they are keeping their promises to reform their educational systems.

The letters sent this week gave the three states one more year to finish their education reform plans — an extension Delisle said would be their last one.

If they don’t succeed, they may need to go back to the original federal rules that require every school and every district to meet a group of benchmarks for kids in various ethnic and economic groups.

“No Child Left Behind,” also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, came up for renewal in 2007 but its requirements have yet to be updated by Congress.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan has pushed lawmakers to revisit the law and started the waiver program as a temporary measure. The House and Senate have been working on competing rewrites of the law.

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