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Missouri Officials Seek 'Flexibility Waiver' for the No Child Left Behind Act

The U.S. Department of Education is giving each state the opportunity to get out of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. To do so, states must submit an alternative proposal that would show they are able to still maintain high standards of achievement. In Missouri, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in Missouri, or DESE, has received the go-ahead to create a document that could be used as its proposal. If approved by the U.S. Dept. of Education in February, Missouri’s plan would change the way schools have been measuring success. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark reports. 


In October, Missouri education officials said they were interested in opting out of the federal guidelines, after school testing results did not meet the set requirements of No Child Left Behind. Some state officials feel that the federal regulations in the act don’t properly represent what is really going on in Missouri schools. Michele Clark is the communications coordinator for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in Missouri.

"Right now, more than eighty percent of the schools across the state under the federal regulations would say that they’re in need of improvement. We all recognize accountability is important, and continuing to improve is important, but it provides mixed messages. It’s not a focused streamline effort on what we really believe in Missouri.”

If approved, this waiver would allow Missouri to exchange federal reporting requirements for new state requirements. These criteria will be designed specifically for Missouri. Some state educators, like Nixa Superintendent Dr. Stephen Kleinsmith, feels like it should be up to state teachers, and not a federal mandate, to decide what reporting requirements are right for Missouri students.    

“One of the lessons of No Child Left Behind is that the federal government does not know how to improve schools. This needs to be handled at the local level at best, or at least the state level in partnership with local school board government.”

The state is inviting the public to review the proposed alternative draft and give input on it. DESE has provided an online presentation to the public that addresses criteria of the waiver application: expectations for students going to college, recognition, accountability and support of Missouri schools, and effective instruction and leadership within all schools.

The application deadline is February 21stfor states seeking the waiver for the 2012-2013 school year. Those who would like to view the application may go to KSMU.org to for a link to the waiver web page.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.

Click here for the link to the waiver web page.