GA expecting word of No Child Left Behind waiver

School officials say after 10 years, the No Child Left Behind law is outdated and placing stress on schools, educators, and students. / Jessica Fairley

A decade after the implementation of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, Georgia schools Superintendent John Barge and other state school superintendents are pushing to have it waived.

Barge expects to hear whether the state has received the waiver by the end of the month.

Back in 2002, the No Child Left Behind act was introduced into U.S. schools. It was the start of Criterion Reference Competency Tests (CRCT) which aimed to promote and monitor success among students.

Educators say when put into practice, the program helped improve schools.

"It caused school systems all over the country to put under scrutiny instruction where teachers had to have performance levels and students had to perform," said Dougherty County School System Public Information Officer R.D. Harter.

Now 10 years later, Georgia school officials say the state has outgrown the program. If granted, a waiver would change the way schools are graded.

"Tests will still be used and the CRCT test will still be used. It just won't be the only indicator as the measure of success," said R.D. Harter.

The state of Georgia wants to use a five-star system and colored flags to indicate whether a school is making gains.

Superintendent John Barge's proposed changes would take into account student career track success, college placement and among other things, honors programs.

Harter says under the No Child Left Behind law each year schools are required to raise graduation scores by 5 percent. So this year the school system has to reach 90 percent graduation.

"It's getting to a point where schools are realizing that you can't achieve 100 percent graduation rate because for one thing No Child Left Behind does not allow you to count special education diplomas as graduates. So it's impossible for any system with any special education students to attain 100 percent graduation rates in 2014," said Harter.

He says that if NCLB is waive, the new requirements would not change how the federal government funds schools because they would have approved the curriculum from the state schools superintendent as to how the school would be graded.

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