What Duluth Edu. Leaders Say about MN's Waiver from No Child Left Behind

By KBJR News 1

February 9, 2012 Updated Feb 9, 2012 at 6:51 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - President Obama announced today Minnesota is one of ten states granted a waiver from "No Child Left Behind".

The states are raising the bar on standards and reforming the way students are tested without the federal guidelines.

When President Obama's administration announced the possibility of getting a waiver from "No Child Left Behind", Minnesota immediately hopped on board.

"We combine greater freedom with greater accountability because what might work in Minnesota might not work in Kentucky," said Obama Thursday.

Under the waiver success and growth will no longer be based only on No Child Left Behind's Adequate Yearly Progress reports but on other measures as well.

"Teachers and the public really had this perception that our schools weren't doing well and so a new way of measuring our schools will mean that the public has a better idea of the progress students are making," said Duluth Superintendent Bill Gronseth.

The State of Minnesota and its school districts have been working on what tests should now be used, but the reforms are not complete.

"We do have some things in place that we use locally to measure student growth throughout the year and that's based on the Minnesota standards and local benchmarks," said Gronseth.

It's not only those at the Duluth School District that are happy to see more flexibility from No Child Left Behind.

"When you have some of the top schools in the state not making AYP, There's something wrong with that."... "[Reform] can only be a step in the right direction if we don't allow ourselves to lose our focus."

"We've got to do it in a way that doesn't force teachers to teach to the test or encourage schools to lower their standards to avoid being labeled as failures," said Pres. Obama.

"It will take away perhaps a burden, which in many cases has been perceived as an unfair burden and let us concentrate on really making a difference in the education of kids and the lives of kids," said Frank Wanner, President of the Duluth Federation of Teachers.

Gronseth hopes it will also help address those struggling the most, falling into the achievement gap.

"Our constant growth monitoring will mean that we'll better be able to adjust our teaching to meet their individual needs," said Gronseth.

"Making a difference in the lives and the education of our kids and of our community," said Wanner.

With this waiver Minnesota School Districts will also get more flexibility in the use of their "Title 1" funds.

Wisconsin is among 29 other states poised to request a waiver from No Child Left Behind.

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