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Missouri gets approval to leave No Child Left Behind, behind

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The US Department of Education is waiving all No Child Left Behind requirements for Missouri schools.

The federal law requires students to meet proficiency standards in reading and math by 2014. Missouri applied for a waiver after roughly 18 percent of districts in the state failed to meet yearly academic goals.

"The real effort is just beginning," state education commissioner Chris Nicastro said in a written statement. "Our goal is to ensure that all students graduate from high school college-and career-ready for Missouri to become one of the top 10 states in education by the year  2020."

Margie Vandeven of Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says the waiver allows the state to use its own accountability system to identify and help struggling schools.

“Missouri now has more independence to support improvement efforts in our schools by establishing ambitious yet attainable goals for districts," she said. "Our system will focus on improvement not just labeling.”

Missouri was one of five states granted waivers Friday including Arkansas, South Dakota, Utah and Virginia.

24 states have now been exempted from the No Child Left Behind requirements.

The waiver takes effect immediately.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Follow Joseph Leahy on Twitter: @joemikeleahy


Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.