89.1 WEMU

AP: First 10 States Granted Waivers From 'No Child Left Behind'

Feb 9, 2012

Following up on a plan he unveiled last September to let states apply to be exempt from basic elements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind education law, President Obama will today announce the first 10 states that have qualified for such exemptions.

The Associated Press, citing "a White House official ... who spoke on condition of anonymity because the states had not yet been announced," says the states are: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

One state, New Mexico, has been denied a waiver but is working with the administration to see if it can soon qualify, according to the wire service.

The goal of the waivers is to give states more flexibility as they seek to reach educational achievement goals set by the federal government when George W. Bush was president.

NPR's Larry Abramson reported in September, when Obama's waiver plan was announced, that:

"States that apply for and receive waivers no longer have to label schools as failing if they fall short of achievement goals. Instead, states can come up with their own plans to boost performance. They also no longer have to set aside a certain amount of federal money to deal with low performing schools. ...

"States must show that they have ways to measure student growth and get students ready for college or a career. They also have to be developing comprehensive teacher evaluations that include the use of standardized test scores."

The AP adds that while "No Child Left Behind requires all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014 ... Obama's action strips away that fundamental requirement for those approved for flexibility, provided they offer a viable plan instead. Under the deal, the states must show they will prepare children for college and careers, set new targets for improving achievement among all students, reward the best performing schools and focus help on the ones doing the worst."

The plan for exemptions, Larry also reported, worries some "advocates for minority and special education students" who are concerned that such students will be ignored.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.