Nightly News | February 09, 2012
>>> big news on education. ten states have gotten something they wanted for years. they've been freed from the requirements of the bush era one size fits all, as it's called, education law known as no child left behind . our education correspondent rehema ellis is live for us tonight in tennessee near memphis, one of the schools that will no longer have to abide by no child left behind . good evening.
>> reporter: good evening, brian. no child left behind passed with huge bipartisan support and the best of intentions. as states began to implement the law, schools noticed many started to complain that schools were becoming too test-oriented, some lowering standards to make the grade. today, ten states were granted a waiver giving them new flexibility to improve their schools.
>> they know the beginning and the end .
>> reporter: this middle school outside memphis is considered a good school in tennessee . but under no child left behind , it's at risk of being labeled a failure because nearly 50% of its students are not proficient in reading and math. today, tennessee was one of the ten states granted a waiver from requirements that have been the law of the land for a decade.
>> the waiver allows measures that are more tied to growth and you can get a student where they start, intervene and measure that growth and reward schools and students for good growth.
>> very good.
>> reporter: under no child left behind , it's been all or nothing, requiring every student test at grade level by 2014 or schools could be in jeopardy of state takeover or complete shutdown. new jersey fought hard for the waiver because nearly 1/3 of the students in its largest city, newark, don't graduate from high school .
>> no child left behind has reached its point in terms of its effectiveness. i see this in legislation all the time. you think you have a great idea, you implement it. in experience it's been changed.
>> you can do the math to figure out if the numbers are wrong.
>> reporter: some education analysts complain that the waivers don't go far enough to give schools the freedom they need to teach and measure students' progress.
>> many schools that today are considered failing are going to still be considered failing under this new system.
>> this waiver allows us to still do some of the same things we are doing.
>> reporter: still, superintendents are celebrating today's news.
>> now we can reward those schools for achievement and growth and for doing good things, plus intervene, whereas no child left behind , most of the schools identified as needing intervention were, quote, failing.
>> reporter: despite the concerns and criticisms, 28 states and the district of columbia are filling out applications for the waiver program. brian?
>> rehema ellis, thanks. that elementary