WASHINGTON -- U.S. Department of Education grants Ohio's request to waive some compliance standards of 2001 No Child Left Behind law.
They will be replaced with benchmarks that Ohio's Education Department deems more realistic.
Ohio's waiver was among eight that Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced today, bringing the total number of state waivers granted to 19.
Other states granted waivers today were Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island.
Officials say 26 states and Washington, D.C., applied for flexibility. The remaining applicants can still receive waivers.
The waivers are a stopgap measure until Congress rewrites the decade-old law, which has been up for renewal since 2007.
Federal lawmakers agree the law needs to be changed, but they've bickered over how to do that.
Without the waiver, Ohio school districts would have been penalized unless 100 percent of their students were deemed "proficient" on standardized math and reading tests by 2014.
When Ohio applied for the waiver in February, state schools Superintendent Stan Heffner said the No Child Left Behind law "actually inhibited schools by its focus on minimums instead of helping more students gain the knowledge and skill sthey need to be successful once they graduate."
"This new accountability system will give Ohioans a more honest picture of how our schools are really performing."
Ohio's plan would provide targeted assistance to low-performing schools, reduce paperwork, and give local schools more flexibility in their use of federal funds.
It also replaces Ohio's current school evaluation system with traditional A through F letter grades.
Schools and districts would be issued an overall grade, along with four subgrades that measure how well they meet expected performance levels, how much academic growth their students demosnstrate and how much progress has been made to close the achievement gap between students.
In a release, Assistant U.S. Education Secretary Carmel Martin said Ohio put forth a strong plan that set ambitious performance targets and ensured that its educational standards would be translated into instruction.
She said that the state has not finalized work on its grading system, and will have to get that approved once it is fully developed.