According to Alyson Klein at Politics K-12, the US Department of Education told states that it would consider NCLB waiver extension without requiring compliance on the matter of teacher evaluation (this apparently in an email from Deborah Delisle, assistant secretary of saying things Arne Duncan doesn't want to say).
The new plan calls for states' extensions to be judged based only on two out of three of the four big You Have To's-- standards, assessments, turnarounds. Teacher evaluation plans come under a different review sometime further down the road.
I am waiting to hear how this news goes over in Washington State, where the waiver was rescinded because they had no fed-approved teacher evaluation plan in sight. Does this mean the federal government no longer has to fire every teacher and take over every school in WA?
Okay, granted, right now it's an extension. They're going to give some more time for states to come up with something they like (and that is politically palatable in the state's legislature). But it still shows a recognition of some new political realities.
What does it mean? It means the US DOE blinked. It means that Washington State probably just struck a huge blow for teachers across the country. It means that Duncan has once again revealed that the "laws" imposed on states under the pretense of federal get-out-of-actual-laws-free waivers are in fact arbitrary and based on nothing except the calculus of political power. And it means that we've seen the first crack in the foundation of the whole waiver program.
Pardon me while I do a little happy dance!