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Miss. Considers Applying for NCLB Waiver

By Annie Gilbertson | Published 26 Sep 2011 09:19am | comments
NCLB May Have Focused Miss. Standards, But Experts Say the Law Has Run Its Course

President Obama announced he would exempt qualified states from some requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law. The Mississippi Department of Education is considering applying for a just such a waiver. MPB's education reporter, Annie Gilbertson reports on what Mississippi's education experts think about  the idea.

When No Child Left Behind hit the law books in 2001, Mississippi State University  Education Professor, Dr. Kay Brocato was relieved.

Brocato: “It’s about time somebody notices we aren’t doing what’s best for kids.” 

After analyzing the law's decade long run, Brocato says NCLB focused educators and the public on the benchmarks that are now being  achieved.

Brocato: “While nobody welcomes the stick kind of assessment, all of us want to win. There is some part of us that wants to be a better district today than we were yesterday.”

Today, Brocato, like many Mississippians, believes the policy has hit somewhat of a ceiling in terms of effectiveness.  Proponents of waivers agree that NCLB's push for annual yearly progress has left many good schools labeled as failing.

Mississippihas a smaller percentage of schools meeting annual yearly progress than states such as Georgia, which has already applied for a waiver.

Dr. Hank Bounds, former State Superintendent and current Commissioner of higher learning told Mississippi Public Broadcasting last month that the state should apply for a waiver.

Bounds: “The idea is appropriate but the devil is in the details and there are real structural policy issues that need to be addressed.”

Wendy Polk, Director of Communication at the Mississippi Department of Education says that whether the state gets a waiver or not, the accountability that came with the advent of No Child Left Behind has taken deep root.

Polk:  We are moving into common core state standards where students in Mississippi will receive the same curriculum and assessments as students across the nation.  So we will make sure that students are being held to a high standard even if a waiver is accepted.

Polk says the decision to apply for a waiver would only come if the Board of Education, state legislators and other stakeholders decide it is the best way forward for the children of Mississippi.  But time is short. The deadline to apply for a waiver is less than two months away.

From the Southern Education Desk, for MPB News, I'm Annie Gilbertson.

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NCLB May Have Focused Miss. Standards, But Experts Say the Law Has Run Its Course


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