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N.H. receives No Child Left Behind waiver

The U.S. Department of Education approved the state’s waiver request from parts of No Child Left Behind yesterday.

New Hampshire joins 38 states and the District of Columbia that already have waivers from parts of the law. No Child Left Behind passed with bipartisan support in 2001 but its flaws began to show as more schools were designated as “failing” each year. To receive a waiver, the state department of education had to develop its own plan for holding students to college- and career-ready standards, measuring student achievement and evaluating teachers, among other things.

“I look forward to continuing to support you as you implement New Hampshire’s (waiver) request and work to improve the quality of instruction and academic achievement for all students,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote in the approval letter.

The waiver is good through the 2014-2015 school year, then the state must reapply. If Congress acts to reauthorize the law before then, the new law would override the waivers.

A major piece of the waiver is shifting focus for reforms on the bottom 15 percent of schools in the state. Under the current law, nearly 75 percent of the state’s schools have been deemed failing. With the waiver, the state department of education will focus primarily on the schools with the lowest test scores and those with the largest gaps between the lowest- and highest-achieving students.

KATHLEEN RONAYNE

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