CPS Reacts to "No Child Left Behind" Waiver

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COLUMBIA - The U.S. Department of Education approved Missouri's Elementary and Secondary Education Act waiver Friday, giving the state flexibility from federal No Child Left Behind Act requirements.

Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Chris Belcher said the waiver will allow Missouri to look at its own strengths and weaknesses to determine how to improve. 

"The problem with the federal government is that [it tends] to look at the poorest performing schools which are usually urban and impoverished, come up with a way to fix it and tell all of us we have to do the same thing," Belcher said. "An urban school fix does not work in Columbia."

CPS has also started initiatives on reading recovery for students who need extra help. Without the waiver, Belcher said the district would have had to lay off two or three reading specialists because federal money was drying up. The waiver will also allow the district to dedicate more funds to professional development.

Belcher also expects the waiver to allow schools to measure students' individual progress on test scores. "We're looking at longitudinal growth, rather than a snapshot in time per grade level," Belcher said.

"It's a good thing. It gives local school districts and local school boards more opportunities to make decisions and spend resources that best serve their children," Belcher said.

Belcher also expects this will be a hot topic during debates in the upcoming presidential election.