President Barack Obama said his decision to free 10 states from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education law will give the flexibility they need to set high standards for students and hold schools accountable.
Obama spoke Thursday at the White House. He said he is giving 10 states waivers from the strict and sweeping requirements. The states are getting leeway in exchange for promises to improve the way schools teach and evaluate students.
The Obama Administration granted the waiver Thursday after years of urging from many in education.
They had called NCLB outdated with standards that fail too many schools even though their students had been making significant progress.
"It doesn't mean we are lowering standards," said Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam after announcing the waiver.
Haslam said there will be accountability, but recognition of teachers who had just fallen short of keeping a school from failing.
"And they were still going to be labeled failures or failing schools, but they are not going to be labeled with that stigma if they are making the classroom improvement," he said.
Under the waiver, the governor proposes to raise overall yearly achievement three to five percent.
He also plans to cut achievement gaps by 50% over an eight year period.
Other parts of the NCLB waiver focus on schools with achievement gaps, reward top schools with grants and make lowest performing schools a priority.
"No Child Left behind was a very well intentioned law, but it had some unintended consequences, it was punitive in nature," said Dr. Mike Looney of Williamson County.
The No Child Left Behind waiver needs approval from state lawmakers.
If passed, schools across the state will not see the impact until next school year.
The 10 states are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee.