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What the law replacing No Child Left Behind will mean for CA

President Barack Obama signs S.1177, the
President Barack Obama signs S.1177, the "Every Student Succeeds Act", a bipartisan rewrite of No Child Left Behind, at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, December 10, 2015.

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The headlines wrote themselves yesterday: "No Child Left Behind" was left behind.

President Obama signed off on a bill to replace the unpopular federal education law on Thursday. The new plan is known as the "Every Student Succeeds Act" (or ESSA).

"No Child Left Behind" was signed into law by then President George W. Bush in 2002. It faced a fair amount of criticism, especially here in California.

Michael Kirst, president of the California State Board of Education, says the 2002 law set unrealistic targets for 2014.

"By 2014, all children had, in every school, to reach a proficiency level of a fairly high level or else that school was labeled by the federal government as not meeting annual yearly progress and failing," Kirst says. "So we had almost every in California with these schools and we had about 6,000 schools called failing."

ESSA is a compromise that will keep some of the elements of "No Child Left Behind," like required statewide reading and math tests, and fines for the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools.

But, Kirst says, ESSA also aims to give states "much more flexibility on identifying schools that aren't working well and on prescribing what they do when they intervene. So we can tailor the interventions to what California thinks we ought to be doing, and we can vary it by school much more specifically."

To hear the full interview with Michael Kirst, click the player above.