Tennessee exempted from No Child Left Behind law - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Tennessee exempted from No Child Left Behind law

(WMC-TV) - Tennessee is one of ten states that will receive an exemption from No Child Left Behind educational standards.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam says dropping the No Child Left Behind program has been a long time coming and now Tennessee must continue to work toward improving student achievement. President Obama's announced Thursday that he's exempting 10 states, including Tennessee, from some of the mandates of the No Child Left Behind law.

"No Child Left Behind, I feel like, in the early days formed a very valuable service as far as raising the expectations and standards, but over time it has become one that is impossible to meet," Haslam said.

Under the current law, all students must be 100 percent proficient in language arts and math by 2014.

A White House official said the waivers will exempt the selected states from that deadline.

"We have been supporting this change," said Ken Foster, executive director of the Memphis Education Association. "(We) felt like we were not going to be able to meet the standard set for 2014 and needed some time and flexibility."

Under the deal, the states will have to set new goals for improving student achievement and closing achievement gaps.

Foster said educators must also show how they will prepare children for college and careers, set new targets for improving achievement among all students, reward the best performing schools and focus help on the ones doing the worst.

"We just instituted a new evaluation system in Tennessee and Memphis and we believe that by using this new evaluation system, we'll be able to provide teachers with some of the tools necessary to look at what students are doing and get them to achieve better than the have in the past," he said.

Some critics argue the 2014 deadline was unrealistic, the law is too rigid and too many schools feel they are labeled as "failures."

"We're making significant progress in thousands of classrooms, but the law had become so unrealistic in many cases it had become de-motivating," Haslam said.

In states granted a waiver, students will still be tested annually.

But starting this fall, schools in those states will no longer face the same prescriptive actions spelled out under No Child Left Behind.

A school's performance will also probably be labeled differently.

Officials say another 28 states have already signaled their intention to ask for exemptions.

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