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Federal Waiver Paves Way for Student-Focused Education Reform

Press Release

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In a major step toward real reform for Minnesota students, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius joined President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan in Washington today for the announcement that Minnesota will receive a waiver from the requirements of the federal education law commonly known as "No Child Left Behind." The waiver will allow the state to begin implementing a more meaningful accountability system for Minnesota schools and give school boards flexibility to implement needed education reforms to improve education in Minnesota.

About the waiver, Governor Mark Dayton said, "Today's announcement is important to our students, parents, and teachers. Under "No Child Left Behind," teachers have been forced to teach to tests, which do not accurately measure either individual student or school progress. Students spend too many hours preparing for, practicing, and taking the tests.

"This waiver will allow Minnesota administrators, teachers and parents to work together in building a new system of accountability for our schools, which will lead to better education for our children and a better future for Minnesota. I am thankful to the President for this opportunity and grateful to Commissioner Cassellius for her leadership on reform."

"Today we are one step closer to a system of accountability that puts students first," said Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, who led the waiver application process for the state. "Minnesota is a national leader in test scores, yet we are still faced with one of the widest achievement gaps in the country. Now, with the support of the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Duncan, we will be able to better address those inequities and create an educational system that better serves our every Minnesota student."

The waiver was developed using intensive outreach and input from experts, policymakers, parents, educators and community members to ensure the new system better addresses the specific needs Minnesota, As a result of the successful waiver, Minnesota will begin using a new accountability system based on multiple measures of reliable data to identify schools for recognition, accountability and support. The new system will provide a clearer focus on schools most in need of intensive intervention strategies and support, and will move the state forward in the goals of closing achievement gaps and improving educational outcomes for all students.

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