Utah Takes a Page from the North Dakota Playbook

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In the last few issues of TQB, we have reported on events unfolding in North Dakota where education officials there got into a bit of a spat with the US Department of Education, over how that state had defined a highly qualified teacher (HQT). During a monitoring visit last November, Department reps expressed a similarly low opinion about Utah's HQT policy, where teachers there were granted HQT status for having merely earned positive evaluations from their principals and having three years' of teaching experience. Not surprisingly, Utah education officials are now hoping for some North Dakota-style treatment from the Department of Education. The Roughrider state was given another couple of years to get their definition right without even a hand slap. "We expect something similar," stated Tim Bridgewater, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman's deputy for public education.

Department officials have gone back to Salt Lake City this week to iron out a deal, though they'll definitely be at a disadvantage with the North Dakota precedent. Critics of Rod Paige see hope in Margaret Spellings, who has said that she will be more flexible about state-level NCLB compliance issues. However, given the way that one state has chosen to interpret the North Dakota episode, Spellings should make clear that waivers?being true to their name?will be the exception, not the rule.