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“We are not interested in engaging in this work solely to obtain a waiver from the federal government,” the letter reads in part. “We are interested in engaging in this work to improve learning for our students.”

While No Child Left Behind will remain the law of the land in some states, it remains unclear just how strict the Education Department will be in enforcing it, Mr. Petrilli said. The department’s focus clearly has turned to the waiver plan, and no one is sure how much manpower and resources it will dedicate to reforms going forward, he said.

“We’re moving into an era where there is a discrepancy from state to state on how [No Child Left Behind] is going to work, and there’s a total lack of clarity of what will or will not be enforced. At the state and local level, it’s going to lead to a lot of confusion. It’s going to lead to paralysis,” he said.