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Arkansas granted No Child Left Behind waiver

By Staff and wire reports

This article was published June 29, 2012 at 9:14 a.m.

— Arkansas is one of five states that have been granted relief from key requirements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, bringing the total to 24 states given waivers, an Obama administration official said Friday.

Missouri, South Dakota, Utah and Virginia were also freed from the No Child Left Behind requirement that all students test proficient in math and science by 2014, a goal the nation remains far from achieving.

In exchange, the states and all others granted waivers must develop accountability plans that set new targets for raising achievement, advancing teacher effectiveness, preparing all students for careers and college, and improving the performance of low-performing schools.

“This flexibility allows Arkansas to evaluate schools in terms of performance, growth and graduation rate,” Arkansas Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell said in a statement. “We are not turning our back on accountability. With our new system of accountability, support and intervention, we will focus on specific problems unique to each public school in Arkansas.”

Democrats and Republicans agree the No Child Left Behind law is broken, but have been unable to agree on how to fix it. The law has been praised for shining a light on the performance of subgroups like minorities, low-income, English language learner and special education students, but also has led to an increasing number of schools being labeled as "failing" and subject to a prescribed set of interventions — even if just one of these groups didn't meet learning targets.

Critics of the law also say it has had the unintended effect of encouraging instructors to teach to the test and has led schools to narrow their curriculums.

The five states approved for waivers Friday were among 26 states that submitted requests for flexibility in February. The Education Department announced waivers for eight of those states in May. Another 13 are still under review. Waivers for the first 11 were granted in February.

"We all understand that the best ideas don't come from Washington, and moving forward, these states will have increased flexibility with federal funds and relief from NCLB's mandates, allowing them to develop locally-tailored solutions to meet their unique educational challenges," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in draft remarks released to The Associated Press.

Duncan and the White House have pushed for a comprehensive reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, but there has been little movement in Congress over the past two years. After Duncan warned that 82 percent of schools could be labeled "failing" — a figure many said was inflated, but nonetheless agreed to be rising — the Obama administration announced last year that states could apply for waivers. Republicans have charged that the president with overreaching his authority and imposing his vision for education on the states.

Comments on: Arkansas granted No Child Left Behind waiver

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Jjackk says... June 29, 2012 at 10:29 a.m.

They run it just like schools are run now. We can't have 82% of the schools labeled as failing. So we work on the standard instead.

Instead its just politics as usual. "We all understand that the best ideas don't come from Washington, and moving forward, these states will have increased flexibility with federal funds and relief from NCLB's mandates, allowing them to develop locally-tailored solutions to meet their unique educational challenges,"

The Obama administration announced last year that states could apply for waivers. Republicans have charged that the president with overreaching his authority and imposing his vision for education on the states. How is that? By giving state more leeway? By spending money on their own school system their own way? They should be given more authority but with authority also comes the responsibility. Sounds like the Republican thinking is that the more responsibility you take on the less blame they can divert.

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bbos42 says... June 29, 2012 at 11:15 a.m.

So that gives us a chance to dodge the responsibality teaching students anything and to continue to graduate students that can't read, wright, or add. Thanks again, Obama!!!!

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Jjackk says... June 29, 2012 at 12:19 p.m.

So then you want NCLB followed as written and let the federal government control everything? I'm all for giving states more leeway and the responsibility. The problem here may be that we don't have enough football practice facilities right now.

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HisAngel says... June 29, 2012 at 2:12 p.m.

Bbos42- Perhaps you should take a few English classes. Your spelling and sentence formation is not correct. Obama probably was not in office when you were in elementary school.

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HisAngel says... June 29, 2012 at 2:14 p.m.

Oops! I missed one too. Correction: Your spelling and sentence formation ARE not correct.

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T6 says... June 29, 2012 at 5:52 p.m.

Obamacare will be the fiasco and failure that NCLB is.

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Jackabbott says... June 29, 2012 at 8:26 p.m.

Heck, let Jeff Long run it, after all he is building a state of the art practice building so 15 students can practice BB. At least he is someone in the state who can count and spend taxpayers' money without shame. Perhaps they could use the abandoned buildings in FT. Smith that was used by Whirlpool before they shipped 5,000 jobs to Mexico.
No wonder Petrino took to bike riding, poor roads, poor schools and poor students, but,man, have we got great practice facitlites and tatoos and felons too.

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