The long-time albatross placed on West Virginia and the nation's school systems is being lifted.

State schools can now ignore the federal education law that established No Child Left Behind.

The U.S. Department of Education has granted West Virginia's flexibility waiver, accepting instead a state-developed plan for evaluation.

That state plan is a new method for classifying school performance.

The report says instead of simple distinctions between schools whose test scores indicate which are making progress and which are not, the new plan will sort schools into five groups based on performance.

Officials say the new system will allow the state to funnel extra funding to schools that need it most.

The state system, according to most of the nation's report cards in recent years, has ranked the Mountain State at the bottom in achievement.

State School Superintendent Jim Phares has already identified 32 low-performing schools under the new guidelines, calling them priority schools.

The list is expected to be released this week.

Under the NCLB guidelines, Calhoun Middle-High School has been ranked as the poorest performing among the state's 55 counties.

Educators say the main flaw in the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act was that all students should be able to score at least "proficient" on state standardized tests by 2014.

Critics said the system resulted in teaching to the test that was administered each years.

Schools were judged by whether they were making "adequate yearly progress" toward that proficiency goal.

The NCLB goals are now seen as unfeasible, according to education experts.

Schools will now be judged based on a progress model.

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