In its initial review of No Child Left Behind waiver requests, the U.S. Education Department highlighted a similar weakness in nearly every application: States did not do enough to ensure schools would be held accountable for the performance of all students.
The Obama administration praised the states for their high academic standards. But nearly every application was criticized for being loose about setting high goals and, when necessary, interventions for all student groups - including minorities, the disabled and low-income - or for failing to create sufficient incentives to close the achievement gap.
Under No Child Left Behind, schools where even one group of students falls behind are considered out of compliance and subject to interventions. The law has been championed for helping shed light on education inequalities, but most now agree it is due for change.
Indiana's proposal to opt out of the federal law's strictest requirements was criticized by the Education Department for its "inattention" to certain groups, like students still learning the English language. New Mexico's plan, a panel of peer reviewers noted, did not include accountability and interventions for student subgroups based on factors like achievement and graduation rates. In Florida, the department expressed concern that the performance of some groups of students could go overlooked.