The waiver Pennsylvania received from the federal No Child Left Behind education law paves the way for a state-designed set of criteria for judging schools.

The federal mandate that all students must be able to read and do math at their grade level by this year won't apply. Corbett administration officials say it would have been too high a hurdle for many school districts.

New state-designed assessments, based on more than standardized tests, will be publicly available this fall.

Schools that are found to be lacking will have more choices than the federally offered recovery routes, which include some aggressive measures involving replacing staff and school principals, according to
Department of Education spokesman Tim Eller.

"There are going to be additional options provided through the state Department of Education -- professional development services, intervention services, support services," he said.

The recovery liaison is a position created by this new state evaluation system to help schools with high numbers of poor students.

Eller says he's not sure how the academic recovery liaisons will be hired, or whether they will be state employees or outside contractors.