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More states, DC receive waivers on No Child Left Behind standards

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is giving seven more states and the District of Columbia more flexibility from the requirements of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind education law.

In addition to Washington, Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Tuesday renewed waivers for Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, New York, and West Virginia.

Current law requires schools to use standardized tests in reading and math to measure student progress. Schools in states with waivers wouldn’t be excused from the testing requirements but instead could develop and implement their own plans to measure progress that go beyond the required testing.

“The last six years have seen dramatic progress for America’s school children,” Duncan said in a statement. “The high school dropout rate is down, and graduation rates are higher than they have ever been.”

The 2002 landmark education law signed by President George W. Bush required annual testing and put into place consequences for schools that didn’t show progress. It led to complaints that teachers were forced to teach to the tests, and that some of the mandates weren’t realistic.

The Education Department, under President Barack Obama, began issuing waivers in 2012. Since then, 42 states and the District of Columbia have waivers.