FAIRBANKS (AP) — The U.S. Department of Education has approved Alaska’s request for a one-year freeze on state targets under the No Child Left Behind Act.
Under the Bush-era law, the number of students needed to pass standardized tests to achieve adequate yearly progress increases each year. The one-year waiver will allow Alaska to use 2010-11 proficiency targets when calculating its progress in the coming school year.
The frozen targets will require that 83 percent of students be proficient in English and 75 percent of students be proficient in math.
The 10-year-old law requires all students to achieve proficient math and reading scores by 2014, a target many educators consider impossible to reach.
Fairbanks North Star Borough School District Superintendent Pete Lewis said Friday the partial waiver is a step in the right direction.
“The system is one that needs to be adjusted,” he told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
Said Rep. Bob Miller, D-Fairbanks, “The state’s efforts to set its own standards and take the opportunity to opt out of No Child Left Behind are working, and the federal government’s decision to grant the first part of our request is an encouraging step in Alaska’s efforts to maintain local control of our schools and our children’s education,” he said.
The partial waiver must be formally accepted by the state Board of Education at its July 24 meeting.
The Obama administration announced Friday that Washington and Wisconsin have been granted larger waivers from the education law. That brought to 26 the number of states now free from many of its requirements. The Education Department started granting waivers in February in exchange for promises from states to improve how they prepare and evaluate students and their teachers.