So far, 10 of the 11 states that have applied for a No Child Left Behind waiver have received one. The waiver has been granted to Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee, with just New Mexico being denied. The waiver will allow states to design their own programs for educational improvements instead of being forced to follow the cookie-cutter approach in the NCLB act. Many other states have indicated that they too will be applying for the waiver. New Mexico is working with the administration to try to successfully reapply for the waiver. The waiver program had been announced in September 2011 by the president. States will have until Feb. 21, 2012 to request a waiver as part of the second round of waivers.
The No Child Left Behind law was a keystone educational reform package signed into law by former President George W. Bush in 2002. The ultimate goal of the law was to ensure that all students are performing at grade level by 2014. To ensure this goal is met, schools have to make a certain amount of progress every year as measured by standardized tests. It essentially ties public funding to schools to standardized test scores achieved by students. If the schools did not improve enough between the previous year and the current year, therefore not making adequate yearly progress, then that school could be in danger of facing corrective action. This action may include funding reductions or restructuring of the district.
This has long been a controversial measure. Critics say that the measure does nothing to help advanced students, and may in fact even hinder them. Critics also point out that there are students who may never be able to perform at grade level due to intellectual or physical handicaps. Many also feel that the reliance on standardized tests leads to schools teaching only those concepts that will appear on the tests. This leaves out a large amount of information that would otherwise be taught. Though most agree that there needs to be some way to hold school districts accountable, some believe that this law is not the way to do it.