OKLAHOMA CITY - The federal government has waived the "No Child Left Behind" act for Oklahoma and nine other states.
The move gives long-sought leeway to states that promise to improve how they prepare and evaluate students.
Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi says the waiver frees schools from the regulations and will better allow school districts the flexibility they need to better serve individual schools and students.
"It's about turbo-charging our efforts with districts all over our state", says Barresi. "This is about putting Oklahoma's best foot forward."
All 77 under performing schools across the state will submit their self evaluations to the state by next Wednesday. That data will used to create individual improvement plans for each school that will take affect during the next school year.
Some of those schools are located in Tulsa.
State Representative Jeannie McDaniel has concerns.
"What we are not excited about is the possible takeover of these schools. It's already in state legislation. They don't need the waiver to do this," McDaniel said.
"These schools were designated priority schools by No Child Left Behind. If these schools were in failing situations and we didn't see improvement, it would allow the state department to come in and take over operation of these schools - from the leadership to the teachers," she said.
House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, thinks the waiver will improve the quality of Oklahoma schools.
"All Oklahomans want our schools to have the best chance to succeed and this waiver allows for that. With this waiver, the federal government made a choice that’s going to help Oklahoma and not hurt us," she said.
"The waiver shows the importance of the school grading and student reading reforms the governor signed into law last year, as well as Oklahoma’s graduation criteria and school employee effectiveness standards."
"It’s going to improve the student experience, the teacher experience and the administrator experience all at once. I applaud Superintendent Barresi for her leadership and tenacity in obtaining this critical waiver for Oklahoma schools.”
The nine other states are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and Tennessee, according to a White House official.
The official says the only state that applied for but was denied the flexibility is New Mexico, which is working to get approval.
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