Topeka Kansas may again seek a waiver to the No Child Left Behind law now that President Barack Obama announced Friday that he would give states more freedoms in complying with the law.
The decision on whether to seek a waiver would have to be made by the State Board of Education.
Given previous discussion by board members on NCLB, it will likely get “serious consideration,” said Kansas Department of Education spokeswoman Kathy Toelkes.
Obama said he would drop the requirement that all students must earn a proficient score on tests for reading and math by 2014. Critics of the law said that was an impossible goal, set some schools up for being branded as failures when they were really improving, forced teachers to base their instructions on the test, and shortchanged other subject areas, such as history and science.
Instead, Obama said he would grant waivers to the requirement if states imposed standards to better prepare students for college and careers and set evaluation standards for teachers and principals.
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 reauthorization in Congress of NCLB.
The law was passed in 2001 under then-President George W. Bush. It was due for a rewrite in 2007, and the Obama administration has lobbied Congress to take action but Congress hasn’t yet.
In August, the state Education Board, anticipating that the federal Education Department would start granting waivers, discussed applying again. There seemed to be consensus that that might be a good idea as some board members said the proficiency goals were unfair.
State Board of Education Chairman David Dennis, a Republican from Wichita, said a high school in Wichita was making great strides in improving reading and math test scores, but, because a small subgroup was struggling, the entire school was labeled as having failed.
“Does that make any sense whatsoever?” he asked.
The board may take up the issue of whether to seek a waiver at its next monthly meeting, scheduled for Oct. 11-12.