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State gets waiver from school act

The Obama administration announced last week that it will give Arkansas some flexibility in meeting key provisions of the No Child Left Behind law.

The administration now has approved waivers for 24 states that have come up with their own plans to prepare all students for college and career.

Arkansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Utah and Virginia were granted waivers last week, according to the White House.

“These states have joined in a nationwide movement toward state-led education reform,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “Their plans are the product of bold, forward-thinking state and local leaders who have moved beyond the tired old battles and partisan bickering.”

Duncan said many of the states have created accountability systems that provide stronger assurances that students at risk will not be left behind.

“States must show they are protecting children in order to get flexibility. These states met that bar,” he said.

Under the waiver, Arkansas will reward some schools for exemplary performance and improvement and distribute targeted resources to help persistently struggling schools. The plan will run in tandem with the implementation of college and career ready learning standards and efforts to strengthen educator evaluations, according to Arkansas Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell.

“This flexibility allows Arkansas to evaluate schools in terms of performance, growth and graduation rate,” he said.

The No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law in 2002 by President George W. Bush, and requires schools receiving federal funding to be held accountable for student performance based on annual state-wide exams.

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