Minnesota Governor asks for No Child Left Behind exemption

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August 15, 2011

By David Godow

Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minnesota:

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, following a number of other states, asked the White House last week to exempt Minnesota public schools from the testing requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind education bill of 2002. According to Dayton's official statement, NCLB has "labeled many schools wrongly, by applying invalid statistical measures" and would subject the state's schools to "flawed testing requirements and punitive sanctions."[1] Dayton's motivation, however, may be a bit more practical: under the terms of the law, Minnesota schools, like half of their counterparts nationwide, could be at risk of losing their funding due to unsatisfactory test results.

Dayton's announcement comes on the heels of U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan's statement that he would offer waivers to states like Minnesota due to an overwhelming failure across all parts of the country to keep up with NCLB expectations. According to Duncan, 80 percent of schools will not meet their 2014 goals under the law, which call for 100% of elementary and secondary school students to test at grade level in reading and math. Even this year, 90% of schools in some states are expected to fail to meet requirements.[2] Duncan called massive failure rates a "distortion of the picture," "dishonest," and "demoralizing to teachers."[2]

Despite near-universal contempt for No Child Left Behind's provisions, getting out of compliance requirements isn't automatic: states will be required to present their own systems for holding teachers accountable and increasing college readiness.[3] Dayton, who voted against NCLB while a Minnesota congressman, has not announced any particulars about Minnesota's plan to fulfill those requirements.

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