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California Calls No Child Left Behind 'Unworkable,' Asks for Relief

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California wants to use its own accountability system to improve schools rather than to abide by federally required policies from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which is also known as No Child Left Behind.

Like it said it would last month, the state officially filed for a waiver seeking relief from the federal law on Friday. The request is not the same as waivers sought by other states which have been granted by President Barack Obama but require a viable alternative plan and improved accountability.

Supported by several California educators and advocates, the request was submitted by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Board of Education (SBE) President Michael Kirst. In a release California's Department of Education referred to No Child Left Behind as "unworkable" legislation "that has labeled far too many schools as failing." Torlakson also has said the federal guidelines cost too much -- $3 billion by his estimates.

If granted, the waiver could give California greater flexibility in how they spend federal funds while relying on a state's measure of academic achievement. No Child Left Behind also requires that teacher evaluations are linked to student test scores. California's teachers union and many education officials oppose this method of evaluation.

No Child Left Behind, which was signed into law by President George Bush in 2002, stipulated that students must be proficient in reading and math by 2014. Waivers have been granted to several states by President Obama, who has argued the one-size-fits-all plan is outdated and needs to be rewritten.

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