The federal government has approved Louisiana’s plan to overhaul the way public schools and students are evaluated, officials said Tuesday.

The action comes through approval of a waiver request that the state requested in February.

It will allow the state to get around some rules spelled out in a 2001 federal law called the No Child Left Behind act, or NCLB.

The law is aimed at improving student achievement.

But critics contend that some of the regulations actually stifle public school progress.

Congress has been unable to agree on how to revamp the law, and the U. S. Department of Education made the waiver requests available to states in September.

The state’s plan calls for a new focus on the rougly 235,000 students -- about one third of the total -- who perform below grade level.

It will also mean changes in the way about 1,300 public schools are rated yearly, which is linked to the letter grade they get.

The waiver will also eliminate a wide range of federal requirements on local school districts, including school and district improvement plans, written proposals on how on how to make progress and how certain dollars have to be spent.

The new approach will “reduce bureaucracy while raising the bar for student achievement,” state Superintendent of Education John White said on Feb. 7.

The changed rules are set to take effect for the 2014-15 school year.

White planned to meet with reporters on Tuesday at 3:15 p.m.?