Mass. Requests No Child Left Behind Waiver

Tuesday, 15 Nov 2011 12:20 PM

By Greg McDonald

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Massachusetts on Monday joined a growing number of states that have applied for waivers to the federal No Child Left Behind law, arguing that it wants to replace some of its strictest provisions with a more flexible system to improve school performance.
The Boston Globe reported that the state’s 85-page proposal submitted to the Department of Education would allow schools more latitude in how to achieve academic goals than the federal law.
It calls for cutting the student failure rate in half within six years in key proficiencies such as math, English, and science, and would impose tougher oversight of schools that consistently don’t measure up.
 “We will flag schools with the greatest achievement gaps,’’ the Globe quoted state educational commissioner Mitchell Chester as saying. “We will call them out.’’
According to the Education Department, at least 28 states and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico had applied for No Child Left Behind waivers as of Nov. 10, in an effort to win more flexibility and to avoid failing to meet the law’s strict 2014 deadline of making all students proficient in reading and math.
Federal education officials are expected to grant most of the waivers, given the fact that President Barack Obama in September encouraged states to draw up their own school accountability systems.
Waivers granted through the early part of next year would clear the way for states to implement their plans beginning next fall with the new school year.
The Globe report noted that while containing more flexibility, the Massachusetts plan would still stress testing as the key measurement of performance and would continue to use the federal standards under No Child Left Behind as “the primary measuring stick.”

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