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No Child Left Behind loosens grasp as 10 states freed from requirements

No Child Left Behind has been a contentious law ever since it was passed in 2002. Now ten states have been released of some of the toughest legal requirements of the law.

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No Child Left Behind no longer applies in 10 states: President Barack Obama shakes hands with Education Secretary Arne Duncan after speaking about No Child Left Behind, Thursday, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Ten states were freed from some of the landmark law's toughest requirements, Thursday.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

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It could be the beginning of the end for No Child Left Behind.

The goal was lofty: Get all children up to par in math and reading by 2014. But the nation isn't getting there, and now some states are getting out.

In a sign of what's to come, President Barack Obama on Thursday freed 10 states from some of the landmark law's toughest requirements. Those states, which had to commit to their own, federally approved plans, will now be free, for example, to judge students with methods other than test scores. They also will be able to factor in subjects beyond reading and math.

"We can combine greater freedom with greater accountability," Obama said from the White House. Plenty more states are bound to take him up on the offer.

While many educators and many governors celebrated, congressional Republicans accused Obama of executive overreach, and education and civil rights groups questioned if schools would be getting a pass on aggressively helping poor and minority children — the kids the 2002 law was primarily designed to help.

The first 10 states to be declared free from the education law are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The only state that applied for the flexibility and did not get it, New Mexico, is working with the administration to get approval.

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