DENVER (CBS4)– Colorado and nine other states were released from the constraints of the “No Child Left Behind” education requirements on Thursday.
President Barack Obama said he did it because Congress had failed to update the law despite widespread agreement that it needed an overhaul.
Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee are exempt from the law. Another 28 states have signaled they want a waiver, too.
“Today I am pleased to announce that we are giving 10 states, the first 10 states, the green light to continue making the reforms that are best for them,” said Obama.
What this means for students is they will still have to work just as hard in the classroom, but they will only have to measure up to one standard instead of two.
“This was one of the first and biggest ‘We can’t wait’ announcements that we’ve made. Because our kids and our schools can’t be held back by inaction,” said Obama.
The waiver from the No Child Left Behind law allows the Colorado Department of Education to use its own accountability system. It’s one that is more concentrated and can focus specifically on the educational needs of the student, school and even district.
“Our accountability system has key components such as growth, different measures beyond reading and math,” said Dr. Keith Owen, the associate commissioner of the department. “We’re able to take student’s individual information from year to year and really gauge growth on these students.”
Sen. Michael Bennet, the former superintendent of Denver Public Schools, has pushed for granting these waivers.
“Nobody in D.C. is going to be able to teach a kid in a classroom in Denver and that’s what’s so important about these waivers,” said Bennet, a Democrat. “I think everybody wins here because it basically means that the federal government is not going to reach in and interrupt the work that’s being done all across our state.”
The changes in accountability determinations will go into effect in August for the 2012-2013 school year. Colorado schools will not lose funding for under-performing schools.
Under the No Child Left Behind law, 75 percent of Colorado school districts would not achieve the required adequate yearly progress.
Under the state accountability system, education leaders can focus on the bottom 15 schools and work from there to make all students college ready.