Topeka Kansas may apply again for a waiver to increased student performance requirements under the federal No Child Left Behind law, officials said Tuesday.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education had rejected a waiver sought by Kansas, saying the best way to assist states was through timely re-authorization in Congress of federal education reforms.
But Congress hasn’t moved on a rewrite of the law, so U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said that President Barack Obama has authorized him to grant waivers to states.
State Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker said Kansas was well-positioned to receive a waiver.
“We think we’re in very good shape,” DeBacker said.
The federal government has said for states to get waivers, the states must have a set of reforms that Kansas has already put in place, she said. Those include improved education standards and better ways of tracking academic growth.
Critics of No Child Left Behind says it includes unrealistic benchmarks for student performance and unfairly brands schools as failures even if they are making progress but falling below what is called adequate yearly progress or AYP.
Under the law as it is now, every student must be 100 percent proficient in math and reading by 2014.
State Board of Education Chairman David Dennis, a Republican from Wichita, said AYP wasn’t fair. He said a high school in Wichita was making great strides in improving reading and math scores but because a small subgroup was struggling, the entire school was labeled as having failed AYP.
“Does that make any sense whatsoever?” he asked.