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Washington gets wiggle room under No Child Left Behind

Washington schools will be able to sidestep some of the toughest standards and punishments in the federal No Child Left Behind law. The federal government announced Friday it will give waivers to Washington and Wisconsin.

Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn has said under the current law, nearly every school in the state would get socked with penalties. Schools are supposed to have all of their students meeting learning standards by 2014, or else lose control over big chunks of federal money.

Now the federal government has announced it will let Washington pursue its own alternative plan to improve schools. Dorn said the biggest difference will be that schools are measured not on raw scores, but on their progress.

“So you may have a school scoring somewhat low, but because they increase their test scores three percent a year, they’ll be considered a pretty good school,” Dorn said.

The state will also hold schools accountable for student achievement in science and writing, in addition to the core math and reading scores.

Washington’s application was not approved in the last round of waivers. Dorn says the state resolved the earlier concernsabout the rigor of teacher evaluations. The addition of Washington and Wisconsin mean more than half the states now have some breathing room under No Child Left Behind.

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.