ATLANTA — Another eight states are gaining flexibility from the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Tuesday.
The Education Department has approved waivers for Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island. Twenty-six other states and Washington, D.C., also applied for a waiver and could receive approval in coming weeks.
President Barack Obama’s administration is granting waivers in exchange for promises from states to improve how they prepare and evaluate students. In all, 19 states have been given waivers so far.
“These states are getting more flexibility with federal funds and relief from NCLB’s one-size-fits-all mandate in order to develop and implement locally tailored solutions to meet their unique educational challenges,” Duncan said in a call with reporters.
He was in Connecticut to make the announcement.
The waivers are a stopgap measure until Congress rewrites the decade-old law, which has been up for renewal since 2007. Federal lawmakers agree the law needs to be changed, but they’ve bickered over how to do that.
The states that won waivers earlier this year are: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
No Child Left Behind requires all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014. The waivers throw out that fundamental requirement, provided they offer a viable alternative plan.
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.
Obama has called former President George W. Bush’s most hyped domestic accomplishment an admirable but flawed effort that hurt students instead of helping them. Republicans have charged Obama is overreaching his authority by granting waivers and is imposing his vision for education on states.
States have been asking for relief from the law as the 2014 deadline neared.
“The waiver lets New York move away from NCLB requirements that were unproductive or unrealistic,” state Education Commissioner John B. King said in a prepared statement. “We’re making a new set of promises to our students. Now we have to live up to those promises.”
Duncan said the Obama administration prefers that Congress fix the law but insisted students can’t wait for that. In an election year in a divided Congress, that appears unlikely to happen.