November 28, 2014

NCLB waiver brings relief

A state lawmaker says a waiver for the federal No Child Left Behind law will help Wisconsin more effectively improve its public schools. The U.S. Department of Education on Friday approved the waiver, which exempts the state from several of the education law’s requirements.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) says it removes a lot of pressure from the state, such as meeting a requirement that all students be proficient in math and reading by 2014. Critics have argued that benchmark is nearly impossible to meet under the law and schools could have lost aid if they failed to do so.

Olsen says the state can now address the achievement gap in public schools using plans that are tailored to the specific needs of Wisconsin students. He says it allows for a better testing situation to determine how students are doing and where they are in their academic progress.

The waiver also allows the state to evaluate the performance of teachers, which Olsen says will be critical to identify educators who are doing a good job, those who need a little help improving, and teachers who should not be in the classroom at all.

Federal education officials are working to re-write No Child Left Behind, but Olsen hopes states can continue to take their own approach and do what they feel is necessary to help their students.

Wisconsin is one of 26 states to be granted a waiver so far.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:12)