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NEWS: Education

White House: Oklahoma 1 Of 10 States Granted No Child Left Behind Waiver

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Oklahoma's State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi. Oklahoma's State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi.

President Barack Obama announced Thursday ten states, including Oklahoma, will be freed from the strict and sweeping requirements of the No Child Left Behind law.

The move gives Oklahoma and the nine other states more leeway in how they will prepare and evaluate students under the law.

The other states that received waivers include Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and Tennessee.

Obama spoke Friday at the White House and said he's giving 10 states waivers from the strict and sweeping requirements because the states need to ensure that "every student should have the same opportunity to reach their potential." 

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

In states granted a waiver, students will still be tested annually. But starting this fall, Oklahoma schools will no longer face the same prescriptive actions spelled out under No Child Left Behind.

Officials say Oklahoma was picked because of sweeping education reform in the past year. Some of those reforms included a law requiring yearly report cards on schools released to the public. Tests that would end social promotion of third graders who can't read on their grade level. And work to develop a system for teacher performance.

Oklahoma's State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi along with school leaders and educators from across the state reacted to the announcement during an afternoon news conference in Oklahoma City. 

"We now have added urgency to press ahead with implementation of reforms and a chance to help schools in our state improve," Barresi said.

Tulsa Public Schools superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard issued the following statement concerning NCLB.

"I do think that we need a waiver.  I haven't had a chance to review it, but we'll be anxiously looking at waiver to see what is in there." 

Oklahoma will use a new plan that involves grouping students into two categories: disadvantaged students and everyone else.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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