President Obama announced Feb. 9 that 10 states will be no longer be bound in the classroom by the No Child Left Behind Act.

The bill has caused controversy on both sides of the aisle since it was passed with bipartisan efforts in 2001 under the Bush Administration. The legislation aimed to increase reading and math skills by 2014. However, schools across the nation are now opting out of enforcing the bill.

“After waiting far too long for Congress to reform No Child Left Behind, my Administration is giving states the opportunity to set higher, more honest standards in exchange for more flexibility,” Obama said in a statement to press. “If we’re serious about helping our children reach their potential, the best ideas aren’t going to come from Washington alone. Our job is to harness those ideas, and to hold states and schools accountable for making them work.”

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, schools are required to take yearly-standardized tests that determine whether they have made adequate yearly progress. If a school does not meet the standard for two years, they are deemed “in need of improvement.”

Many schools turned to lowering their standards to keep federal funding, rather than raise them and risk losing important monies. Teachers have increasingly turned to “teaching the test,” or flat out cheating to keep their scores high and their jobs secure.

The bill was supposed to be rewritten in 2007, but Congress has yet to come to an agreement on how to do so, forcing the president to result to executive action.

“Rather than dictating educational decisions from Washington, we want state and local educators to decide how to best meet the individual needs of students,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement.

The decade-old law has frustrated not only students, but teachers and parents dealing with those who have special educational needs. Students with special needs are still required to take the same standard tests as other students, under the same conditions, with final scores being factored into the school’s results.

States no longer subject to No Child Left Behind standards can now use other methods to more adequately gauge how well students are doing. Schools with waivers will use other subjects beyond reading and math to determine advancement. Georgia has decided to do away with its pass-or-fail testing in exchange for a system using five stars. Schools freed from the act can also factor in Advanced Placement test scores, and end-of-course testing to show how well their doing, according to National Public Radio.

Though the waivered states will not have to meet a 2014 deadline, they will have to create a plan to push for higher college and career readiness goals, complete evaluations and peer reviews, and undergo teacher and principle development.

Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee have all received waivers from the president. Any state seeking to do away with No Child Left Behind standards is eligible to apply for a waiver.

Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer