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No Child Left Behind Waiver

Patricia Murphy

Washington is now among 26 states granted waivers from many requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind education law. The law from the Bush administration required all students to achieve proficient math and reading scores by 2014.


Many educators, including Washington state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, say No Child Left Behind set up impossible standards. Schools had to improve every year in test scores and attendance or the feds said they were failing.

Dorn: "We know kids learn at different rates and different things happen in their lives, and stuff, and some kids come with challenges like English as a second language. So if you didn't meet that standard every year, it got ratcheted up you were going to be a school placed in improvement or a failing school. And so basically, the way statistical data and mathematical statistics work, every school was gonna be failing because there would be one student in the school that wasn't at grade level."

Now Washington has a waiver for these requirements from the Obama administration. The waiver says the state has to use student standardized test data to evaluate teachers and schools, but the evaluations will not have an impact on teacher hiring or salaries.

Dorn: "Test scores don't really tell you what makes a great teacher. And that's really what we want in our evaluation system is to help identify and improve teaching, so we had to go back until we got an agreement that was reasonable."

The waiver says Washington has to cut achievement gaps in half. Gaps in test scores between kids who are poor and kids who aren't, and between black and Latino kids and the general population — and they have to do it by 2018.

Patricia Murphy, KUOW News.

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