Education
6:07 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

Missouri Seeks Exemption from No Child Left Behind Act

Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced Thursday it is pursuing a waiver that would exempt the state from certain requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

by Allan Vestal (Columbia, Mo.)

Since it was enacted ten years ago, the federal No Child Left Behind Act has drawn criticism from educators and politicians alike.

Michele Clark is a spokesperson for Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She says the act created two sets of standards for accountability – so schools are currently evaluated by separate federal and state benchmarks.

“Increasingly on the federal side schools are being labeled as failing schools whereas on the state side we are actually seeing improvement and growth,” Clark said.

Federal education secretary Arne Duncan recently announced a program that would let states sidestep some No Child Left Behind requirements. To do so the states have to submit plans to fulfill goals of the 2001 act.

This month, Missouri notified the federal Department of Education it would pursue such a waiver. By doing so the state joined more than 40 others hoping to be released from parts of the No Child Left Behind requirements.

Ann Jarrett is with the Missouri National Education Association, a statewide teachers’ group. She believes teachers will welcome newer unified accountability standards. Jarrett says the current benchmarks use a one-size-fits-all approach that isn’t practical in real-world settings.

“If you just think about your high school class, would everyone be able to get an ‘A’ in geometry or college algebra? Probably not,” Jarrett said.

Clark says the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education hopes to have a proposal ready when the State Board of Education meets in early December.