The U.S. Department of Education announced that the Obama administration had approved Arizona's application for relief from some of the toughest requirements from the federal "No Child Left Behind" law on Thursday.
In exchange for the exemption from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Arizona will use state-developed plans to prepare students for college and work, focus aid on the neediest students and support effective teaching and leadership.
"This is an important step forward giving schools much needed flexibility, so they can move toward substantially increasing the quality of instruction, improving academic achievement and ensuring all high school graduates are college and career ready," said Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal.
The 10-year-old law requires all students to achieve proficient math and reading scores by 2014, a goal that many educators say is impossible.
The law has also garnered criticism because the strict way it measures success has lead to thousands of schools being labeled as "failing."
Members of both parties have said that the education law is flawed, but they have been unable to agree on the best way to fix it.
Federal education regulations were due for reauthorization in 2007, but congressional inaction led President Obama to announce in 2011 that the administration would begin granting waivers from the law to qualified states.
In order to get a waiver, each state had to develop new ways show that students and schools are improving. States also had to link teacher evaluations to student test scores, among other requirements.
The Obama administration began granting waivers in February.
Thursday's announcement brings the number of states granted a waiver to 32.
Five states still have outstanding waiver requests including California, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa and Nevada.
Only 13 states have not requested a waiver through the Obama Administration.
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