Two years ago, the federal government told Washington education officials to get creative with the way they use the nation's money.

So school districts took the millions of dollars they had been setting aside to meet the rules of the No Child Left Behind law and opened new preschools, put more teachers into the classrooms and started programs to help kids with homework.

But now the federal government is yanking the money back.

The U.S. Department of Education announced last month that Washington was losing its waiver from the restrictions of No Child Left Behind because it failed to pass a law requiring school districts to include statewide test scores as an element in teacher evaluations.

The loss of the waiver means there are new restrictions on how schools can spend $40 million in federal dollars annually.