Two University of Minnesota researchers -- Rachel Quenemoen and Martha Thurlow -- are among the education-policy experts who will help decide which states earn No Child Left Behind Act waivers, Education Week reports..

Rachel Quenemoen

Rachel Quenemoen

Quenemoen is listed as a senior research fellow and Thurlow a senior research associate, both at  the university's National Center on Educational Outcomes.

The two are among 21 education advocates who will help U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan decide which No Child Left Behind waiver requests meet standards. State Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius filed a waiver request for Minnesota this week.

In September, President Barack Obama laid out a plan that allows states to apply for waivers in exchange for adopting a series of educational reforms after Duncan predicted that, under the current system, more than 80 percent of schools could be labeled as failing next school year.

Martha Thurlow

Martha Thurlow

Minnesota's 119-page school improvement plan calls for tracking academic growth in individual students, shrinking the state's achievement gap between white and non-white students and boosting high school graduation rates. States that win waivers must have processes for teacher and principal evaluations, or be in the process of developing them. Establishing college and career-ready standards is another requirement.

Forty-one states have indicated they will apply for waivers. Eleven, including Minnesota, applied in the first round. The goal of the 21-member panel is to complete judging on the first round of applicants in December and award the waivers early next year, Education Week reports.

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