No Child Left Behind waivers: five ways education will change

President Obama announced the first 10 states to receive waivers from certain aspects of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal education law on Thursday. Many of these states are considered leaders in education reform for the 21st century. Here’s a look at some ways they are pushing for progress through the flexibility granted by the waivers.

1. More subjects measured

Peter Pereira/The Standard-Times/AP
On Wednesday, Massachusetts Education Secretary Paul Reville observes Brittany Barboso (l.) and Marcus DaSilva (r.) solving math problems in their sixth grade class at Roosevelt Middle School in New Bedford, Mass. Reville said Thursday that President Obama's waiver to free Massachusetts from some requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law is a vote of confidence in the state's system for identifying and improving low-performing schools.

Under NCLB, critics said, the focus on improving reading and math scores narrowed the curriculum, leaving less time for other subjects. One example of how a waiver would change this: Under Kentucky’s assessment and accountability model approved through its waiver, schools must conduct a yearly program review to identify areas of growth or weakness in the subjects of arts and humanities, writing, and practical living/career studies. The state will also provide transparency on achievement gaps not just in reading and math, but also in end-of-course tests in science, social studies, and writing.

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