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Missouri receives NCLB waiver

WASHINGTON – Missouri joins a handful of other states in receiving a waiver for flexibility from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education requirements.

The District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Nevada, New York, West Virginia, and Kansas also received waivers.

“These states are effectively making strides towards ensuring that every child has access to the life-changing and life-transforming opportunities that a quality education creates,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said on Tuesday in a conference call with reporters.

The waiver does not fully excuse the states from the law, but allows the states to develop their own plan to measure success, which may or may not include standardized testing.

The announcement comes on the heels of a survey released by the Missouri School Teachers Association (MSTA), which revealed that over 2/3 of teachers believe there is too much standardized testing in Missouri.

Duncan said schools and policy makers are showing “incredible creativity in using different means to achieve the same goal: getting every student in America college and career-ready.”

Missouri’s waiver is extended for three years – through the 2017-2018 school year. New York received a four year waiver, while the others also received a three year waiver.

Forty-two other states have been granted waivers since waivers began to be issued in 2012.

Congress is working to update the law, which was enacted in 2002. The law requires annual testing to measure progress of schools, and financial consequences for schools that don’t measure up. The policy has drawn ire from many, who say it demands teachers teach testing and others who say the standards are not realistic.

Currently, updates to the law have been approved in both House and Senate committees, but a House vote was cancelled on the updates. The Senate is expected to take up the updates in July.

In Missouri, lawmakers spent countless hours over this past session developing new standards (especially in an attempt to cull Common Core standards), addressing student transfers for failing districts, and prioritizing education funding. Funding was increased by the state this past year, while the governor has released more and more funding to districts in light of increased revenue collections. Meanwhile, the Missouri Lottery has come up almost $30 million short of projections for proceeds dedicated to schools.