‘No Child Left Behind’ Screeches to a Halt: Is Your State on the Waiver List?

classroom11 years after it was signed into law, President Obama is giving 10 states waivers from the requirements of No Child Left Behind. These states in turn promise to improve the way they prepare and evaluate students. In addition to those 10 states, another 28 states have said they plan to seek waivers from NCLB. New Mexico's application for a waiver was not accepted, but the administration is working with the state to get approval.

Through these waivers, little by little, states gain more flexibility and authority to decide how they will educate students. At last, complaints by educators, leaders, and parents that NCLB's requirements were too rigid and led to teaching to the test have been heard.

After the jump, see the list of states who get the NCLB waiver. Is your state on the list?


The states that have been granted a waiver are: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Starting this fall, schools in these states will not have to use the remedies spelled out in NCLB. In other words, they will have the freedom to decide how to improve under-performing schools.

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When these states applied for their waivers, they had to explain how they would still prepare their students for college, create meaningful systems to evaluate teachers and principals, and help under-performing schools while also rewarding high-performing schools.

NCLB has been up for renewal since 2007, but partisan wrangling and other priorities have kept it on the back-burner. This is President Obama's way of bypassing Congress and keep states from suffering the consequences of not meeting the requirements of NCLB. Obama announced in September that he would grant states more flexibility.

States need to be released from the requirements urgently. NCLB requires all students to be proficient in reading in math by 2014 -- and we were nowhere near meeting that standard. As of last year, only half of schools appeared to be meeting that standard, according to the Center on Education Policy. Under NCLB, states where students fail to show "adequate yearly progress" risked losing federal education funding -- which always struck me as counter-productive.

A White House official said, "Current law labels too many schools as failing, dictates unworkable remedies, and results in driving down standards, weakening accountability, and narrowing the curriculum."

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I think this is great news. I'm relieved for our teachers, principals, and fellow parents. NCLB was too rigid. I think it's important that we have high standards and continue reaching higher to prepare our students for their future -- but we have to do that in a way that really will bring out the best in our educators and students.

Is your school among the exempted states? What do you think of waivers?


Image via woodleywonderworks/Flickr




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