Experts say many districts are feeling pressured to meet the standards to avoid penalties under the law.

At least three states are vowing to ignore the latest requirements under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law in an act of defiance against the federal government that demonstrates their growing frustration over an education program they say sets unrealistic benchmarks for schools.

The law sets a goal of having 100 percent of students proficient in math and reading by 2014, but states were allowed to establish how much schools must improve each year. Many states saved the biggest leaps for the final years, anticipating the law would be changed.

But it hasn’t, and states like Idaho, Montana and South Dakota are fed up. They are preparing to reject the latest requirements for determining school progress under the 9-year-old law–even if the move toward noncompliance may put them at risk of losing some federal funding.

Idaho will no longer raise the benchmarks that public schools have to meet under No Child Left Behind, nor will it punish the schools that do not meet these higher testing goals, said Tom Luna, the state’s superintendent of public schools.

The federal requirements are unrealistic for schools to meet while they wait for the government to enact new education standards, he said.

“We’ve waited as long as we can,” Luna said.

Montana and South Dakota are also rejecting the latest No Child Left Behind targets, while Kentucky is seeking a waiver that would allow the state to use a different method to measure whether students are making adequate progress under the program.

And more states could follow in seeking relief from the federal requirements.