NASHVILLE, TENN. (The Blaze/AP) – Governor Bill Haslam said Tennessee is seeking a waiver to use its revamped education standards to measure schools instead of those mandated by No Child Left Behind.
The Republican governor and state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman told reporters in a conference call on Friday that asking for the waiver is not about making excuses for Tennessee's schools, but that federal standards no longer serve the state's interest of education reform.
According to results released Friday, only about 800 of Tennessee's 1,750 or so schools made "annual yearly progress," or AYP, under No Child Left Behind.
Tennessee is the first in the nation to ask for a total exemption to the No Child Left Behind requirements, Haslam said.
Haslam said he once preferred overhauling No Child Left Behind, "but indications out of Washington are that that doesn't seem likely anytime soon" and that it has "outlived its usefulness."
The written request, posted on the Tennessee Department of Education website, asks for a four-year exemption, or until the federal program is sufficiently changed.
According to the Tennessean, the governor and education commissioner said they don't know if their request will be approved. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has warned that 82 percent of U.S. schools could be labeled failures next year if the federal regulations aren't changed.
"If we cannot get a waiver and Congress fails to act, we will be back here in a year announcing the vast majority of schools will be failing," Huffman said.
The Memphis Flyer reported that if waived from the No Child Left Behind standards, Huffman said Tennessee would use the federally-supported Race to the Top program as "the central reform model in the state."