INDIANAPOLIS | Federal education officials Thursday awarded Indiana a three-year waiver from some of the requirements of the 2002 No Child Left Behind law.

The waiver ensures local school corporations will retain control of approximately $200 million in federal funds used for staff and programs aimed at boosting student achievement, instead of that money being redirected to privately operated tutoring services.

Ann Whalen of the U.S. Department of Education said she approved the 389-page waiver request from Glenda Ritz, the Democratic state superintendent of public instruction, because it's clear Indiana has developed a sufficient state program to improve school quality.

"With this renewal, Indiana will be able to continue implementing its plans to promote innovative, locally tailored strategies to improve educational outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, increase equity and improve the quality of instruction," Whalen said.

In a statement, Ritz thanked her staff and particularly her Division of Outreach for School Improvement, whose coordinators work regularly with teachers, parents and students at the state's lowest performing schools to boost achievement.

She said due to their efforts in the past year 103 schools serving 61,000 students have been able to improve from their former "D" or "F" ratings.

"Today's announcement is certainly welcome news for all Hoosiers and I want to thank President (Barack) Obama and Secretary (of Education Arne) Duncan for this waiver," Ritz said. "Because of this waiver, local schools throughout our state will continue to have more control over how they use precious federal resources."

Indiana schools have been operating on one-year waivers since 2012 when the Obama administration began granting exemptions to No Child Left Behind's mandate that all students perform at grade-level in math and language arts by 2014 or face severe sanctions.

The Republican-controlled Congress is working on a new education statute, dubbed the Student Success Act, which may replace some of the current law's most onerous requirements and reduce the federal government's role in education.


Statehouse Bureau Chief

Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.