Story highlights

The addition of 8 new states brings to 19 the number of states with waivers

Another 17 states and the District of Columbia are under review for waivers

The White House announced last year states could get waivers if certain standards are met

Education secretary: "States must show they are protecting children in order to get flexibility"

Washington CNN  — 

The U.S. Department of Education granted eight additional states waivers Tuesday from strict requirements of the No Child Left Behind law.

The White House announced a deal last year that allows states relief from provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or No Child Left Behind (NCLB), if certain standards are met.

The federal flexibility will be allowed “in exchange for state-developed plans to prepare all students for college and career, focus aid on the neediest students, and support effective teaching and leadership, ” according to the U.S. Department of Education.

With the addition of eight news states, the Obama administration has approved 19 states so far, while 17 states and the District of Columbia are under review.

U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the latest waivers for Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island at an event in Hartford, Connecticut.

“These eight additional states are getting more flexibility with federal funds and relief from NCLB’s one-size-fits-all federal mandates in order to develop locally-tailored solutions to meet their unique educational challenges,” Duncan said. “States must show they are protecting children in order to get flexibility. These states met that bar.”

The first round of waivers was announced in late February.

Republicans have been critical of Duncan and the waiver program. “I don’t believe that the language of the law allows the secretary to provide conditional waivers,” said Rep. John Kline, R-Minnesota, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce at a hearing in late March.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney praised the progress of the No Child Left Behind Law in his education plan laid out last week in Washington, but criticized Democrats for stalling the issue

“As a result of NCLB, standards, assessments and data systems are light-years ahead of where they were a decade ago,” according to Romney. “The Obama administration’s refusal to work with Congress to address these challenges represents a clear failure of leadership.”

The U.S. Department of Education has given states a September 6 deadline to apply for the next round of waiver requests.