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Ten States Granted No Child Left Behind Waivers
posted by: Alix | February 13, 2012, 11:16 PM   

2012 marked the 10 year anniversary of the heavily debated and sometimes controversial No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, the nation's flagship federal K-12 legislation. What began as a bi-partisan effort to track schools and measure accountability, has grown into a headache for many states who are struggling to comply with various regulations.

Last year, after several failed attempts to reform the law, the Department of Education introduced a waiver system that would allow states to apply for regulatory waivers to bypass NCLB provisions in favor of education reforms backed by the administration. Hailed as a compromise by education reformers, 38 states have applied for the waivers so far, with 10 states receiving special waivers last week.

Many have called the announcement the end to NCLB as we know it. In a sign of the changing times, President Obama last Thursday personally announced the waivers, calling for other states to submit their own plans. "We can combine greater freedom with greater accountability," President Obama said in a statement.

The first 10 states to be declared free from the education law are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The only state that applied for the flexibility and did not receive a waiver, New Mexico, is working with the administration to get approval.

Those states, which had to commit to their own federally approved education reform plans, will now be free, for example, to judge students with methods other than test scores and assign their own accountability measures. They also will be able to factor in subjects beyond reading and math.

Twenty-eight other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have signaled that they, too, plan to draft their own proposals for waivers. Other proposals are currently under review, and groups of states will be issued flexibility in additional waiver rounds later this year.

While acknowledging the noble goals in the original NCLB legislation, President Obama called the plan outdated and encouraged states to adopt their own proposals. "We've offered every state the same deal," President Obama said. "If you're willing to set higher, more honest standards than the ones that were set by No Child Left Behind, then we're going to give you the flexibility to meet those standards."

Indiana Superintendent Tony Bennett echoed President Barack Obama's thoughts on NCLB in a statement on Thursday, signaling it was time to ultimately give states flexibility."It brought accountability to a system sorely in need of a structure for driving results," he said. "However, as new advances in measuring student achievement and educator effectiveness have become available, the need for increased flexibility at the state and local level is more apparent than ever."

This plan was seen as an unprecedented move that bypassed congressional intervention in favor of immediate action. Moving forward, the administration's action was seen in education circles as an acknowledgement that the law's main goal, getting all students up to speed in reading and math by 2014, as clearly not a realistic benchmark. Only time will tell now if the waiver system will provide the delicate balance between accountably and flexibility needed in so many states.

What do you think about the waiver system? Would you like your state to apply?
Comment below.

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