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State is granted education law waiver

New York and seven other states are gaining flexibility from the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Tuesday.

Besides New York, the Education Department has approved waivers for Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island.

Eighteen other states and Washington, D.C., also have applied for a waiver and could receive approval in coming weeks.

President Obama's administration is granting waivers in exchange for promises from states to improve how they prepare and evaluate students. In all, 19 states have been given waivers so far.

"These states are getting more flexibility with federal funds and relief from NCLB's one-size-fits-all mandate in order to develop and implement locally tailored solutions to meet their unique educational challenges," Duncan said.

He made the announcement in Connecticut, where lawmakers recently passed legislation that overhauls how the state deals with the lowest performing schools. That overhaul requires annual performance evaluations for principals, administrators and teachers, and links tenure to a teacher's effectiveness.

The waivers are a stopgap measure until Congress rewrites the decade-old law, which has been up for renewal since 2007. Federal lawmakers agree that the law needs to be changed but disagree on how to do that.

No Child Left Behind requires all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014. The waivers throw out that requirement, provided states offer a viable alternative plan.

Under the deal, the states must show 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.

States have been asking for relief from the law as the 2014 deadline neared.

"The waiver lets New York move away from NCLB requirements that were unproductive or unrealistic," New York State Education Commissioner John B. King said. "We're making a new set of promises to our students. Now we have to live up to those promises."

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