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Kansas Seeks To Opt Out Of “No Child Left Behind”

KSCB News - February 28, 2011 8:19 am

The United States Congress is working to re-authorize the “No Child Left Behind" legislation. The federal law requires 100 percent of students to meet grade level standards by the 2013-2014 school year. Kansas, however, is ready to opt out of certain provisions.

“The current law is too punitive," said Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. "It’s too prescriptive. "It’s led to a dummying down of standards."

The Kansas Board of Education is hopeful for stronger legislation, but is taking action now, in case that doesn’t happen this year.

"We’re hoping that they introduce a bill before Congress sometime in the next few months and if they can work it in the near future, then we will be working under new rules,” said David Dennis, Chairman of the Board of Education.

Dennis says too many Kansas schools will be sanctioned for not meeting those requirements if action is not taken soon.

“We know that we can never get to 100 percent," Dennis said. "You are never going to achieve 100 percent,” Dennis said. "Our schools are now devoting an awful lot of time and energy trying to chase an elusive goal.”

Under “No Child Left Behind” standards increase continuously through 2014.

Davis sent a letter to the secretary of education asking that the requirements stay at levels from last year until the state can implement Common Core Standards. Those standards would establish uniform expectations of what students should know by high school graduation.

"If we set a high enough standard to measure that growth, then we can look at the growth for every student, we can look at the growth for every school, and we can look at the growth for every district,” Dennis added.

Secretary Duncan agrees there needs to be change and is leaning toward giving states more flexibility.

We have to provide much more flexibility and get Washington off the backs of local educators that are doing a great job,” Duncan said.

The Kansas Board of Education has requested a response from the U.S. Department of Education by May.

That waiver will most likely depend on how soon legislation can be passed. Secretary Duncan is hoping legislation will be passed by August.


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