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“School Improvement Grants have some vague sense that [schools] have to do something different,” he said. “I don’t think it’s done very much.”

The administration’s education policy largely has been molded by Congress‘ inability to pass a comprehensive school reform bill, a measure that would’ve replaced the controversial and increasingly obsolete No Child Left Behind Act.

The White House offered waivers from the law — and its requirement that 100 percent of students be proficient in reading and math by this year — to states, provided they crafted their own education policy overhauls that met the approval of the president’s Education Department.

The waivers have given the administration, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, an unprecedented amount of authority.

“It’s given Arne Duncan more power than any other education secretary has had,” said Robert Maranto, the chairman in leadership at the University of Arkansas’ Department of Education Reform, adding that he thinks the administration’s education agenda, as a whole, likely will end up “doing more good than harm.”