Minnesota to receive No Child Left Behind waiver

by Stephanie Laumer

Minnesota is one of 10 states that will be exempt from the No Child Left Behind law.

The executive action by President Barack Obama will give leeway to states that promise to improve how they prepare and evaluate students, according to the Associated Press.

The first 10 states to recieve the waivers are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee.  New Mexico applied for the flexibility but has not yet been approved.  &undefined;They are currently working with the administration to get approval, a White House official told the AP.

No Child Left Behind requires all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014.  Obama’s action takes away this requirement and allows states to create their own education plans.  States must show they will prepare students for college and careers, set new targets for improving achievement among all students, reward the best preforming schools and focus on the ones doing the worst.

Obama decided to take this action because Congress has failed to update the law despite bipartisan agreement that it needs to be fixed. The law has been up for renewal since 2007.  Disagreements over how much federal control should be in schools and the recent partisan gridlock has kept the changes from moving forward.

Critics of NCLB say the 2014 deadline for schools was unrealistic and forced teachers to teach only to the test.  Too many schools were labeled as failures and thus were not given the financial support they needed.  Other consequences include children being bused to higher-preforming schools and staff layoffs.

The law requires that states raise the bar each year of how many children must pass the test.  More and more schools are failing to meet requirements under the law.

In states granted a waiver, students will be tested annually.  Preformance will be labeled differently.

The pressure will probably still be on the lowest-performing schools in states granted a waiver, but mediocre schools that aren’t failing will probably see the most changes because they will feel less pressure and have more flexibility in how they spend federal dollars, said Michael Petrilli, vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education think tank.