Education Dept. extends more No Child Left Behind waivers

AP News
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Posted: Jun 23, 2015 3:06 PM
Education Dept. extends more No Child Left Behind waivers

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is giving seven more states and the District of Columbia continued flexibility from the requirements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind education law.

Besides the nation's capital, Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Tuesday announced the renewal of waivers for Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, New York, and West Virginia.

Current law requires schools to use standardized tests in reading and math to measure student progress. Schools in states with waivers wouldn't be excused from the testing requirements but instead could develop and implement their own plans to measure progress that go beyond the required testing. The idea is to free the states from some of the more rigid parts of No Child Left Behind while Congress works on an update to the law.

"These states are effectively making strides towards ensuring that every child has access to the life-changing and life-transforming opportunities that a quality education creates," Duncan said in a conference call with reporters.

Duncan said states and local districts are showing "incredible creativity in using different means to achieve the same goal — getting every student in America college- and career-ready."

Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, West Virginia and the District of Columbia had their waivers extended for three years, through the 2017-18 school year. New York received a four-year renewal, through the 2018-19 school year.

The 2002 landmark education law signed by President George W. Bush required annual testing and put into place consequences for schools that didn't show progress. It led to complaints that teachers were forced to teach to the tests, and that some of the mandates weren't realistic.

The Education Department, under President Barack Obama, began issuing waivers in 2012. Since then, 42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have been granted waivers.

The department said every state whose initial waiver is expiring has submitted a request or plans to submit a request for an extension. In March, five states — Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina and Virginia — were approved for extensions through the 2018-2019 school year.

Duncan urged Congress to pass an update to No Child Left Behind, which expired in 2007. Lawmakers have been at odds for years on how to fix the law.

Committees in both the House and Senate have approved updates to the law. A floor vote in the House was canceled when it became unclear whether there were enough votes to pass the measure. The Senate could take up its version of the legislation sometime in July.