WASHINGTON – President Obama is set to give 10 states a pass regarding an approaching deadline under the No Child Left Behind law, after the states struggled to meet the proficiency standards for reading and math.
The executive action will circumvent Congress, which has been stuck on how to rewrite the law. A White House official confirmed to Fox News on Thursday that the 10 states will receive "flexibility" allowing them to miss 2014 targets for student proficiency. However, those states will be required to set new targets, and implement "comprehensive" plans to reward high-performing schools, punish low-performing schools, prepare students for college and the work force and evaluate school officials.
The first 10 states to receive the waivers are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The only state that applied for the flexibility and did not get it, New Mexico, is working with the administration to get approval, according to an official.
Meanwhile, 28 other states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, "have indicated their intent to seek flexibility," the official said.
No Child Left Behind requires all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014. Obama's action strips away that fundamental requirement for those approved for flexibility, provided they offer a viable plan instead.
The president has been critical of the law, which was passed under the George W. Bush administration. In September, Obama said action was necessary because Congress failed to update the law despite widespread bipartisan agreement that it needs fixing. Republicans have charged that by granting waivers, Obama was overreaching his authority.
The executive action by Obama is one of his most prominent in an ongoing campaign to act on his own where Congress is rebuffing him. No Child Left Behind was primarily designed to help the nation's poor and minority children and was passed a decade ago with widespread bipartisan support. It has been up for renewal since 2007. But lawmakers have been stymied for years by competing priorities, disagreements over how much of a federal role there should be in schools and, in the recent Congress, partisan gridlock.
For all the cheers that states may have about the changes, the move also reflects the sobering reality that the United States is not close to the law's original goal: getting children to grade level in reading and math.