South Dakota will no longer have to follow all the rules of No Child Left Behind. On Friday, the U.S. Department of Education granted a waiver that will change the way schools are assessed.
No Child Left Behind requires all students to be proficient in math and reading by 2014, a goal that could have left up to 85 percent of South Dakota schools labeled as "failing." But now the waiver paves a way for the state to develop its own accountability plan.
The program which began in 2002, has been widely criticized for its testing and ranking methods. South Dakota's Education Secretary Melody Schopp says the decision marks a new era in school assessment.
"It's a long time coming with a lot of thought put into what we really strongly believe will provide a strong system of accountability for South Dakota," Schopp said.
In anticipation of the waiver, state lawmakers passed Senate Bill 25. It repeals the current accountability system and sets parameters to write a new program. Schopp says No Child Left Behind was failing both students and teachers.
"It really unfairly identified how schools are doing in a broader sense. It became important for us to really look at a way we could use multiple measures to indicate how schools perform," Schopp said.
The new model will be phased in by 2014 and will use these five assessments to guide teachers. But parents have mix feelings over the state stepping away from No Child Left Behind.
"I think there is a good thing about having something nationally because when you're look from state to state, you can understand the differences," parent Jennifer Noble said.
"It's great we can look at education in our own state and make ourselves accountable to what we expect to come from our students," parent Aleta Lindell said.