State education official seeks waiver from portions of No Child Left Behind

Minnesota's education commissioner today requested from the federal education department to waive two sections of the No Child Left Behind education law.

Brenda Cassellius asks that Minnesota be allowed to freeze for three years a measurement called 'adequate yearly progress.' Schools that aren't don't meet the measurement are labeled as 'failing,' which is an unfair and inaccurate assessment, Cassellius said.

Her request would make the AYP list irrelevant until the state can develop its own methods to assess schools.

"We still want to hold all of our schools accountable. But what we want to do is be able to do that in a fair way that measures student growth."

Cassellius also asks to be freed from the financial sanctions schools face when they fall short of benchmarks. This would allow the state and districts to direct funding to the state's lowest-performing schools, where it's needed most.

"One of the great ironies of this law is that we are in the business of providing additional support to great schools incorrectly labeled as 'failures' at the expense of the very schools which need the most support," Cassellius wrote in her letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

It's unknown how soon the federal department could act on Minnesota's request, but Cassellius is confident it will be approved. Idaho recently was granted similar waivers from the federal government.

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