Alabama Department of Education to seek waiver on No Child Left Behind law

Marie Leech
The Birmingham News

The Alabama Department of Education is looking to freeze annual progress goals on standardized tests at last year’s level while it drafts its application for a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law.

The U.S. Department of Education in September announced that it was making available to states waivers allowing them to escape some of the sanctions and provisions of the 10-year-old law, which requires that all children read and do math at grade level by 2014. Eleven states applied and received the waivers; Alabama did not apply.

For states that intend to apply for waivers, the U.S. Department of Education has made available temporary flexibility from the law, allowing them to freeze annual goals on standardized tests — which determine Adequate Yearly Progress — for one year.

Alabama will apply for the temporary flexibility, said state Superintendent Tommy Bice, and also plans to draft an application for a waiver, although Bice said the waiver application will be different from what the U.S. Department of Education is offering.

Bice said there are too many strings attached to the waivers being offered. He wants Alabama to take its time drafting its application and tailor it specifically toward the reform efforts the state already has in place.

“We want to present a plan that is ours,” he said. “I don’t think we should rush and do something we don’t believe in.”

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