The Obama administration has relieved nearly 26 states of the program’s controversial requirement to make all students competent in reading and math by 2014. Ten more states are in line to receive the waivers.
The law has been criticized for setting unrealistic targets and then punishing schools and teachers for failing to meet those targets. Nearly half of all U.S. schools failed under the program’s rubric in the 2010-11 school year.
While No Child Left Behind has been praised for forcing schools to become more accountable for the education of poor and minority children, it has been derided for what some regard as an obsessive focus on test results, which has led to some notorious cheating scandals. Critics have also faulted the law’s system of rating schools, which they say labeled so many of them low performing that it rendered the judgment meaningless.
In exchange for the education waivers, schools and districts must promise to set new targets aimed at preparing students for colleges and careers. They must also tether evaluations of teachers and schools in part to student achievement on standardized tests. The use of tests to judge teacher effectiveness is a departure from No Child Left Behind, which used test scores to rate schools and districts.