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Arizona will seek waiver from No Child Left Behind

School Superintendent John Huppenthal (Photo by Ryan Cook/RJ Cook Photography)

Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal announced today that the state will seek a waiver from No Child Left Behind, the federal law that sets education standards.

Huppenthal said the deadline to apply for the waiver is Feb. 21 and the approval could come within a few months. On Thursday, President Obama announced that 10 states have gotten waivers from No Child Left Behind.

Huppenthal said in a Joint Education Committee hearing that the waiver would free the state from burdensome regulations and get rid of duplicative processes.

“We feel really good about our A through F system,” Huppenthal said. “But we need to do more on it and we don’t need to be distracted by a federal system that is dysfunctional.”

He said being free from the federal law will enable the state Department of Education to focus on refining the A to F system with scientific data.

In a Jan. 26 letter to education stakeholders, Huppenthal also said that having state and federal systems of accountability is too often confusing.

No Child Left Behind requires all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014.

Arizona recently adopted the grading system and is in the process of transforming from a system that rated schools as excelling, performing or underperforming. Schools that have consecutive years of a D will get an F.

Huppenthal said the federal government wants the states to meet four principles to achieve the waiver.

• Putting college and career-ready standards and assessments into effect;
• A strong accountability system;
• Guidelines for teacher and principal evaluation; and
• Requirements that reduce paperwork and reporting.

Andrew LeFevre, Huppenthal’s spokesman, said the state would still get the funding it receives from No Child Left Behind.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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