New Mexico's commitment to adopt bold reforms around standards, accountability and teacher effectiveness qualified the state to receive the waiver, Duncan said in a release.
Last week, President Obama announced that Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee were the first 10 states granted flexibility.
"Today, New Mexico joins the ranks of states leading the charge on education reform by protecting children, raising standards and holding themselves accountable," Duncan said.
Approval of New Mexico's plan means the state no longer will have to meet 2014 improvement targets set by No Child Left Behind. In exchange, New Mexico will move to an accountability system that recognizes and rewards high-performing schools and those that are making significant gains, while targeting rigorous and comprehensive interventions for the lowest-performing schools.
No Child Left Behind requires all students to be grade-level proficient in reading and math by 2014 or face punitive consequences.
The states receiving the waivers get a break on the mandate in exchange for providing detailed plans for preparing their students for college and careers, setting new targets for improving student achievement, rewarding high-performing schools and getting help to the under-performers, officials say.
Obama announced the waiver plan -- which doesn't require congressional action -- in September as part of his "we can't wait" series of executive orders. Efforts to revamp the education law had stalled in Congress despite bipartisan agreement that the law needed to be revised.