Wash. Requests No Child Left Behind Waiver

Feb 16, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington State will apply for a waiver to the federal No Child Left Behind education law. Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn says the state will ask to set its own standards for student achievement. From KUOW in Seattle, Ann Dornfeld reports.

The so-called No Child Left Behind law has drawn plenty of criticism from teachers and education officials since George W. Bush signed it into law a decade ago. The law requires that states bring all public school students up to grade level on reading and math tests by 2014.

Randy Dorn says that sounds good in theory.

Dorn: "It's a good goal. Nobody would be against it. But I was a motivational speaker for six years and in goal-setting you have to have a goal that's believable and attainable."

No Child Left Behind is neither, Dorn says. Each year, schools are expected to reach new benchmarks toward the ultimate 2014 goal. Schools that haven't met each year's goals are classified as "failing." Right now, Dorn says, about 65 percent of Washington schools are "failing" under the law.

Dorn says if the state doesn't get a waiver, by 2014 he thinks every school in the state will be classified as "failing."

Dorn: "And I think that is just unfair, unconscionable, maybe even criminal to label every public school a 'failing school.'"

The waiver system introduced by the Obama administration lets states propose their own goals for student achievement. Dorn is proposing that every Washington school aims to narrow its achievement gap by 50 percent by 2017. He says schools are already working to meet that goal, and that removing the No Child Left Behind pressures will make it even more achievable.

This week the Obama administration announced that it had granted the first No Child Left Behind waivers to 11 states. Dorn says he hopes to hear whether Washington gets a waiver by the end of April.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network