President Obama will waive central provisions of the No Child Left Behind federal education law for 10 states that have embraced his educational agenda and promised to raise standards, and improve accountability and teacher effectiveness, the White House announced on Thursday morning.
The 10 states — the first group to receive the waivers — are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, New Jersey and Tennessee. New Mexico was the only state that applied for and did not receive a waiver, but it is working with administration officials to secure approval, the White House said.
Twenty-eight other states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have signaled that they plan to seek waivers, according to the White House.
In a statement, the White House press office said that President Obama believes that No Child Left Behind “is driving the wrong behaviors, from teaching to the test to federally determined, one-size-fits-all interventions” and will call on Congress to join his efforts to fix the law. No Child Left Behind was passed a decade ago with bipartisan support and has been up for renewal since 2007.
“After waiting far too long for Congress to reform No Child Left Behind, my administration is giving states the opportunity to set higher, more honest standards in exchange for more flexibility,” President Obama said in the statement. “Today, we’re giving 10 states the green light to continue making reforms that are best for them. Because if we’re serious about helping our children reach their potential, the best ideas aren’t going to come from Washington alone. Our job is to harness those ideas, and to hold states and schools accountable for making them work.”
State education officials have long criticized a crucial mandate in No Child Left Behind that all children demonstrate proficiency in reading and math by 2014, saying that it was an impossibly high bar and did not fully account for the needs of some of the most disadvantaged children.
The 10 states granted the waivers Thursday will no longer have to meet the 2014 requirement of 100 percent proficiency, but will have to set new performance targets for improving student achievement and closing achievement gaps, White House officials said.
These officials added that states would also be required to have accountability systems that reward high-performing schools and single out low-performing schools for “rigorous and comprehensive interventions,” and to develop and implement plans for improving educational outcomes for poor and minority students and other underperforming groups.