Feds will accept state waivers for provision of No Child Left Behind legislation

The U.S. Department of Education has made some big changes to a key component of the No Child Left Behind Act that was signed by President George W. Bush in 2001.

Under the 10-year-old legislation, public schools are supposed to meet rising testing benchmarks in English and math, culminating with the mandate that 100 percent of students show proficiency in these subjects by 2014. Some critics have called this standard unattainable.

The change announced this week by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will allow states to apply for waivers — provided they agree to specific education reforms. The Orange County Register has the full story here.

In response to the news, Tom Torlakson, California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction, issued the following statement:

“If the U.S. Department of Education and the Administration are actually open to a state-determined accountability system, I would welcome it because flexibility is appropriate, warranted, and urgently needed.

“While the California Department of Education will need to review the details of the Secretary’s proposal once they are made available, the need for an alternative model for accountability is clear. And I’m pleased with the progress we are making in our work with the Legislature to put one forward.”

California continues to measure achievement with its own accountability system, which tracks each school’s progress while setting yearly improvement targets. Results for Irvine and other districts are set to be released later this year.