U.S. To Grant Waivers On NCLB

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WASHINGTON, Aug. 8 (UPI) — The Obama administration said it will grant waivers to U.S. states saying they can’t meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind law.

Efforts to reform the signature education legislation of President George W. Bush have stalled in Congress.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he decided to grant waivers because of “universal clamoring” from education officials in nearly every state who say they can’t meet the unrealistic requirements of the federal law, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

“The states are desperately asking for us to respond,” Duncan said in a conference call with reporters late last week.

Educators in most states expressed concern about NCLB’s escalating requirements that result in the goal of 100 percent of students being proficient in reading and math by 2014 or face serious sanctions for their schools, including loss of federal money, the Post said.

The pressure of trying to reach 100 percent proficiency has created a harmful focus on standardized tests and a narrowing of curriculum that excludes studies beyond math and reading, educators said.

In addition, some officials also blame No Child Left Behind for fostering an atmosphere that led educators to allegedly rig test results in Atlanta, Baltimore and the District of Columbia, the Post said.

Duncan and Melody Barnes, President Obama’s domestic policy adviser, declined to discuss specifics about the waivers, but said they would release details in September, when they will begin examining applications from any state seeking exemption.

Administration officials said they will grant waivers to states adopting standards that prepare high school graduates for post-secondary education and careers, and using a “flexible and targeted” accountability system for educators based on student growth, among other things.

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