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Idaho Preparing To Apply For No Child Left Behind Waiver

The second deadline is looming for states to apply for exemption from some parts of the No Child Left Behind law.

After a month of stakeholder and public input, Idaho’s Department of Education plans to submit its request for a waiver.

Ten states have already been granted waivers.

Some legislators called it a “mean-spirited” set of unreasonable, un-funded rules. Many want more flexibility and said the Students Come First plan brings that, along with a higher level of accountability.

“With or without a waiver, Idaho is moving in its own direction,” said State Superintendent Tom Luna.

Luna would like to see No Child Left Behind move in a new direction as well: one that measures success by student’s progress instead of test scores.

That’s what he told the House Department of Education when he testified in Washington D.C. last week.

“Students Come First is focused on states directing their education system and not Washington,” said Luna.

Luna said his controversial education reform is based on academic growth and preparing students for the real world, which is a better system than No Child Left Behind.

Now, dozens of states are asking to be freed from some of its toughest provisions.

Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls said a waiver isn’t enough.

“No. Because the law is still in effect,” said Bateman.

Bateman wants the law repealed. He said he’s sick of waiting for Congress to reauthorize it.

“That’s like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic,” he said. “I’m sorry, but they’re tied up in knots on the issue.”

Bateman cited several weaknesses, like consequences for unrealistic expectations and too much time spent on record keeping.

He said it discourages creativity because teachers focus on teaching to the test, honing in on math and science, while history, art and athletics are pushed aside.

“It’s discouraging well-roundedness in education,” said Bateman.

Under Idaho’s new accountability plan, Department of Education staff said it’s out with Adequate Yearly Progress and in with a five star rating scale. They said a five would be the highest, in measuring excellence in proficiency, growth and career-readiness.

A bill urging Congress to repeal No Child Left Behind is scheduled for its third reading in the Idaho House on Tuesday. Bateman will present it alongside committee chair Bob Nonini.

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