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Forum News Service, Published February 16 2013

North Dakota determined to get No Child waiver

BISMARCK – North Dakota is standing firm in negotiations to get a waiver that would swap a state-designed education improvement plan for provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

At issue is just what percentage of students not meeting NCLB standards should be brought to grade-level proficiency in the next six years, the Department of Public Instruction said.

North Dakota’s original application called for reducing the number of non-proficient students by 25 percent over six years.

But the federal Department of Education said that isn’t enough, and said the goal should be to bring 50 percent of non-proficient students up to grade-level performance in subjects such as reading and math.

DPI said it stands by its 25 percent goal, and submitted more data to justify the more modest target.

Kirsten Baesler, the superintendent of public instruction, told a federal education official that the state would not adjust its application further, DPI said.

DPI wants a decision by the end of February.

North Dakota first submitted its application for a waiver from NCLB requirements Sept. 6, with a revision Dec. 27.

In return for the waiver, the state must create plans to improve students’ learning and test scores.

The state’s plans must include tougher college- and career-readiness requirements and teacher and principal evaluations.