Will waiving NCLB testing standards bring more 'reforms' or more honesty?

Just days after the state Board of Education asked the U.S. Department of Education for a waiver on No Child Left Behind testing standards so Michigan could boost student proficiency on state assessments, federal education officials announced they’ll waive the rule that calls for states to have 100 percent of students proficient on state tests by 2014.

Federal education officials believe that without the waiver, more than 80 percent of the nation's schools would be labeled as failing. For Michigan, as many as two-thirds of our schools could carry that label.

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said he appreciated the move. "This will ease pressure on teachers who now won't have to teach the test. This prevents states like Michigan from being penalized for doing what other states should be doing--raising the standards."

The Department is expecting problems with test scores this fall after it voted to raise the bar on the percentage of students considered proficient on the MEAP. The change is expected to mean far fewer students will be considered proficient and more schools would fail to meet Adequate Yearly Progress benchmarks. The state Department reasoned that this move would provide parents a more accurate measure of school and student achievement.

While Michigan may be cheering the move, waivers will be granted in exchange for states adopting certain education reforms which have yet to be named. So far, only Tennessee and Kentucky had joined Michigan in requesting a waiver.