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States Falling Behind On 'No Child Left Behind'

Washington and Wisconsin have been granted waivers from standards related to the federal No Child Left Behind program, bringing to more than half the number of states with such exemptions.

The Department of Education began granting waivers in February, and so far 26 states have received them in exchange for promises to improve the way they prepare and evaluate students. Ten more states have applied.

The exemptions call into question the viability of the 2002 No Child Left Behind law, President George W. Bush's signature education legislation aimed at bringing the nation's students to a single, national standard by 2014.

But critics have long argued that the legislation forces schools to "teach to the test" and quashes creativity in the curriculum. Teachers' tenure and promotion is often tied to the results of the standardized tests.

The waivers are considered a temporary measure while Education Secretary Arne Duncan works with Congress to rewrite the law.

According to The Associated Press:

Members of both parties say the No Child Left Behind law is broken but have been unable to agree on how to fix it. While it has been praised for focusing on the performance of minorities, low-income students, English language learners and special education students, it has also led to a number of schools being labeled as "failing."

Duncan, in a statement on Friday, said: "As 26 states have now demonstrated, our kids can't wait any longer for Congress to act."

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.

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