Ten years ago, the United States Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Law. This law was aimed at improving performance of schools and students across the board, and that was the basis of the approach. No matter the area, the circumstances, and no matter the students’ unique qualities, the “improvement” had to be standard…or else! Ironically, the “or else” involved schools getting LESS funding but being expected to provide MORE services. It also led to large blocks of class time being spent on teaching students to take and pass the tests that were determining which schools would “pass”.

ClassroomThis month, the State of Oklahoma was granted a waiver to chart its own path to student success and improvement. The Obama administration began granting the waivers because efforts to revise the 10-year-old law have, ”become bogged down in Congress even though members of both political parties agree that the law has problems and is in need of major changes.” A total of 10 states were granted waivers by the State Department of Education, with an additional 28 states applying for, and expected to receive waivers in the near future. Educators and parents have long complained that the law forced classes to become laboratories for drills designed to improve test scores, rather than teach. Some politicians and their constituents complained that the law created too large a role for the federal government in education issues, generally a local concern.

So, what does this mean for the children in Enid, Oklahoma? We asked Amber Fitzgerald,  Communications Director, at Enid Public schools how these changes will affect local kids, parents, and educators, and she kindly gave us this statement:  “We are very excited that the waiver will allow us to focus on individual student growth. It will provide flexibility to better serve the needs of each student. As a district, our goal will continue to be the same: to provide all students with the academic courses and experiences they need to reach their greatest potential and to be ready for the college and/or career of their choice. Right now, many of the NCLB waiver guidelines have not yet been established and/or released. We look forwarding to working with the State Department to learn more details.”

Frequently asked questions/answers about the waiver are available from the Oklahoma State Dept. of Education here: http://sde.state.ok.us/Programs/ESEA/pdf/FAQ.pdf