Tag Archives: Letters (Correspondence)

Monitoring Process for ESEA Flexibility

ESEA Flexibility Monitoring

The Department will monitor each State approved for ESEA flexibility to ensure the State implements its plan fully, effectively, and in a manner that is consistent with the approved request and the requirements of ESEA flexibility, while supporting the State in its work to improve achievement for all students.

The Department’s monitoring of ESEA flexibility is divided into three components—Parts A, B, and C. Materials for Part A and Part B are provided below. Materials for Part C are forthcoming.

Monitoring Guidance and Support Documents

Part A provides ED with a more in-depth understanding of an SEA’s goals and approach to implementing ESEA flexibility and ensures that the SEA has the critical elements of ESEA flexibility in place to begin implementation of its plan.

During Part B, ED takes a deeper look at the SEA’s implementation of ESEA flexibility across Principles 1, 2, and 3, as well as follows-up on any “next steps” from the SEA’s ESEA Flexibility Part A Monitoring Report. The format and depth of that review is differentiated and customized for each SEA.

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Technical Assistance

Webinar, August 1, 2012 – ESEA Flexibility Monitoring, Part A: An Overview

Webinar, April 11, 2013 – ESEA Flexibility Monitoring, Part B: An Overview

Webinar, June 25, 2013–ESEA Flexibility Monitoring, Part B: Tips and Updates from Onsite Pilots

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Secretary’s Approval AMO Letter for Wyoming under the ESEA Flexibility

Date: August 6, 2013

The Honorable James Rose
Interim Director
Wyoming Department of Education
2300 Capitol Avenue, 2nd floor
Hathaway Building
Cheyenne, WY 82002

Dear Director Rose:

I am writing in response to the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) request to waive certain requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA), to permit Wyoming to use the same annual measurable objectives (AMOs) to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations based on assessments administered in the 2012–2013 school year that Wyoming used to make such determinations based on assessments administered in the 2011–2012 school year. The WDE submitted this request in response to a voluntary opportunity that was announced by Secretary Duncan when he invited interested States to submit requests for ESEA flexibility.

WDE included in its request—

  • evidence that Wyoming has formally adopted, consistent with the State’s own standards-adoption process, college- and career-ready content standards in reading/language arts and mathematics that meet the definition of “college- and career-ready standards” in the document titled ESEA Flexibility;
  • an assurance that Wyoming will provide, in a manner that is timely and informs instruction, student growth data on current students and students taught in the previous year to, at a minimum, teachers of reading/language arts and mathematics in grades in which the State administers assessments in those subjects, consistent with the timelines and definitions required under State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Indicator (b)(2);
  • evidence that Wyoming identified persistent achievement and graduation rate gaps within the State that need to be closed and an assurance that Wyoming will report these data publicly by posting the data, in a format that is easily understandable, on its website on a page that is easily accessible by the public; and
  • an assurance that Wyoming will take all steps necessary to develop and submit a request for ESEA flexibility.

After reviewing the WDE’s request and confirming that the WDE posted on its website the data related to persistent achievement and graduation rate gaps, I am granting, pursuant to my authority under ESEA section 9401, a one-year waiver of ESEA section 1111(b)(2)(H) to permit Wyoming to use the same AMOs to make AYP determinations based on assessments administered in the 2012–2013 school year that it used to make such determinations based on assessments administered the prior school year.

My approval is based on the determination that this waiver is likely to increase the quality of instruction for students and improve the academic achievement of students by enabling the WDE, its local educational agencies (LEAs), and its schools to devote time and resources to planning for the implementation of ESEA flexibility rather than devoting additional resources to respond to the growing numbers of schools and LEAs that otherwise would be identified for improvement as a consequence of the escalating AMOs required by current law. Please note that I do not anticipate granting an extension of this one-year waiver.

Accordingly, should the WDE choose not to submit a request for ESEA flexibility, or not receive approval of its request, it will be required to make AYP determinations based on assessment administered in the 2013–2014 school year using AMOs that meet the requirements of current law.

I appreciate the work you are doing to develop an ESEA flexibility request. If you have any questions, please send an e-mail to: ESEAflexibility@ed.gov

Sincerely,

/s/

Deborah S. Delisle
Assistant Secretary

Secretary’s Submission Extension Approval Letter (Wyoming) ESEA Flexibility

Date: March 7, 2013

Honorable James O. Rose
Interim Director
Wyoming Department of Education
2300 Capitol Avenue, 2nd floor Hathaway Building
Cheyenne, WY 82002

Dear Director Rose:

On February 28, 2013, the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) submitted a request for flexibility in response to the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department’s) September 23, 2011, document titled ESEA Flexibility, which invited each State educational agency (SEA) to request waivers regarding specific requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended, in exchange for rigorous and comprehensive State-developed plans designed to improve educational outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, increase equity, and improve the quality of instruction.

WDE staff subsequently indicated, in a March 1, 2013, phone call with Department staff, that the request it submitted, while brief, reflected recent legislation related to the State’s transition to college- and career-ready standards; implementation of a more nuanced system of differentiated recognition, accountability, and support; and development and implementation of more accurate teacher and principal evaluation and support systems. The State further indicated that, given additional time, it could describe more comprehensively its plans for reform in each of these areas as required for an approvable request for ESEA flexibility.

I agree that WDE would benefit from additional time to prepare a request that responds more fully to each of the principles of ESEA flexibility and, therefore, I am granting WDE an extension to resubmit its request no later than April 15, 2013. At the same time, given the importance of expediting review and revisions, if needed, to ensure that, if WDE’s request is approved, such approval occurs in time for full implementation by the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, I believe it is essential to provide technical assistance to WDE staff on key aspects of ESEA flexibility. I am therefore granting this extension to WDE subject to the condition that WDE staff consult regularly with Department staff during the preparation of Wyoming’s revised request. Victoria Hammer of my staff will reach out to WDE staff in the coming days to discuss the details of that consultation.

I anticipate that peer review of WDE’s resubmitted request will occur the week of May 6, 2013.

I look forward to receiving WDE’s complete request and working with WDE to increase student achievement and improve the quality of instruction for all students. Thank you for your commitment to all students in Wyoming.

Sincerely,

/s/

Deborah S. Delisle

Secretary’s Letter for West Virginia November 8, 2012 ESEA Flexibility

November 8, 2012

Jorea M. Marple, State Superintendent of Education
West Virginia Department of Education
1900 Kanawha Boulevard East
Charleston, West Virginia 25305

Dear Superintendent Marple:

Thank you for submitting West Virginia’s request for ESEA flexibility. We appreciate the hard work required to transition to college- and career-ready standards and assessments; develop a system of differentiated recognition, accountability, and support; and evaluate and support teacher and leader effectiveness. The U.S. Department of Education (Department) is encouraged that West Virginia and many other States are designing rigorous plans to increase the quality of instruction and improve student academic achievement.

West Virginia’s request was reviewed by a panel of six peer reviewers during the week of October 1, 2012. During the review, the peers considered each component of West Virginia’s request and provided comments in the form of Peer Panel Notes that the Secretary will use to inform any revisions to your request that may be needed to meet the principles of ESEA flexibility. The Peer Panel Notes, a copy of which is enclosed with this letter, also provide feedback on the strengths of West Virginia’s request and areas that would benefit from further development. The Department’s ESEA flexibility team has also carefully reviewed West Virginia’s request, taking into account the Peer Panel Notes, to determine consistency with the ESEA flexibility principles.

The peers noted, and the Department’s ESEA flexibility team agrees, that West Virginia’s request was particularly strong regarding meaningful consultation of teachers and diverse stakeholders, transition to and implementation of college- and career-ready standards and assessments, and a concrete plan for implementing teacher and principal evaluation and support systems.

At the same time, based on the peer reviewers’ comments and our review of the materials West Virginia has provided to date, we have identified certain components of your request that need further clarification, additional development, or revision. In particular, concerns were identified with respect to the following:

  • Weighting of indicators in the accountability index may not reflect appropriate expectations for all students to meet college- and career-ready standards; and
  • Annual measurable objectives (AMOs) are not solely proficiency based and lack rigor.

The enclosed list provides details regarding these concerns, as well as other key issues raised in the review of West Virginia’s request, that must be addressed before the Secretary can approve your request for ESEA flexibility. We encourage West Virginia to consider all of the peers’ comments and technical assistance suggestions in making revisions to its request, but we encourage you to focus primarily on addressing the concerns identified on the enclosed list.

Although the Peer Panel Notes for West Virginia provide information specific to your request, West Virginia may also benefit from comments and technical assistance suggestions made by other peer panels regarding issues common to multiple State educational agencies’ (SEA) requests. For this reason, Department staff will reach out to West Virginia to provide relevant technical assistance suggestions and other considerations that may be useful as you revise and refine your request.

We remain committed to working with West Virginia to meet the principles of ESEA flexibility and improve outcomes for all students. We stand ready to work with West Virginia as quickly as possible. In order to ensure prompt consideration of revisions or additional materials, we are asking SEAs to submit those materials by November 30, 2012.

Department staff will be in touch to set up a call as early as this week to discuss the timeline and process for providing revisions or materials.
You and your team deserve great credit for your efforts thus far, and I am confident that the Department’s ESEA flexibility team will work with your staff to address outstanding concerns. If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact Grace Ross at 202-260-0967. Thank you for your continued commitment to all of West Virginia’s children.

Sincerely,

/s/

Deborah S. Delisle

cc: Robert E. Hull, Associate Superintendent

Enclosure

Secretary’s Feedback Letter for West Virginia ESEA Flexibility

 

May 20, 2013

Honorable James B. Phares
State Superintendent of Schools
West Virginia Department of Education
1900 Kanawha Boulevard East
Charleston, WV 25305

Dear Superintendent Phares:

I am pleased to approve West Virginia’s request for ESEA flexibility. I congratulate you on submitting a request that demonstrates West Virginia’s commitment to improving academic achievement and the quality of instruction for all of the State’s elementary and secondary school students.

In fall 2011, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) offered States the opportunity to request flexibility from certain requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, in exchange for rigorous and comprehensive plans designed to improve educational outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, increase equity, and improve the quality of instruction. This flexibility is intended to support the groundbreaking reforms already taking place in many States and districts that we believe hold promise for improving outcomes for students. We are encouraged by the innovative thinking and strong commitment to improving achievement for all students that is evident in West Virginia’s request.

Our decision to approve West Virginia’s request for ESEA flexibility is based on our determination that the request meets the four principles articulated in the Department’s September 23, 2011, document titled ESEA Flexibility. In particular, West Virginia has: (1) demonstrated that it has college- and career-ready expectations for all students; (2) developed, and has a high-quality plan to implement, a system of differentiated recognition, accountability, and support for all Title I districts and schools in the State; (3) committed to developing, adopting, piloting, and implementing teacher and principal evaluation and support systems that support student achievement; and (4) provided an assurance that it will evaluate and, based on that evaluation, revise its administrative requirements to reduce duplication and unnecessary burden on districts and schools. Our decision is also based on West Virginia’s assurance that it will meet these four principles by implementing the high-quality plans and other elements described in its request and in accordance with the required timelines. In approving West Virginia’s request, we have taken into consideration the feedback we received from the panel of peer experts and Department staff who reviewed West Virginia’s request, as well as West Virginia’s revisions to its request in response to that feedback.

The waivers that comprise ESEA flexibility are being granted to West Virginia pursuant to my authority in section 9401 of the ESEA. A complete list of the statutory provisions being waived is set forth in the table enclosed with this letter. Consistent with section 9401(d)(1) of the ESEA, I am granting waivers of these provisions through the end of the 2014–2015 school year. At that time, West Virginia may request an extension of these waivers.

In the coming days, you will receive a letter from Deborah Delisle, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, containing additional information regarding West Virginia’s implementation of ESEA flexibility, as well as information regarding monitoring and reporting. Please note that the Department will closely monitor West Virginia’s implementation of the plans, systems, and interventions detailed in its request in order to ensure that all students continue to receive the assistance and supports needed to improve their academic achievement.

West Virginia continues to have an affirmative responsibility to ensure that it and its districts are in compliance with Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and age in their implementation of ESEA flexibility as well as their implementation of all other Federal education programs. These laws include Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

A copy of West Virginia’s approved request for ESEA flexibility will be posted on the Department’s Web site at: http://www.ed.gov/esea/flexibility/requests. Again, I congratulate you on the approval of West Virginia’s request for ESEA flexibility and thank you for the work that you and your staff have done. I look forward to continuing to support you as you implement West Virginia’s ESEA flexibility request and work to improve the quality of instruction and academic achievement for all students.

Sincerely,

 

/s/

Arne Duncan

cc: Governor Earl Ray Tomblin
Robert E. Hull, Associate Superintendent

Enclosure

Secretary’s Principle Three Approval Letter for Washington ESEA Flexibility

March 26, 2013

The Honorable Randall I. Dorn
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Washington Department of Public Instruction
P.O. Box 47200
Olympia, WA 98504

Dear Superintendent Dorn:

I am writing to inform you of the outcome of the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) review of Washington’s guidelines for teacher and principal evaluation and support systems. During the week of July 16, 2012, two peer experts reviewed Washington’s guidelines and the corresponding changes to Principle 3 of Washington’s request. ED staff also reviewed Washington’s submission and both the peers and ED provided feedback to Washington regarding its submission.

Based on the review of Washington’s guidelines and the corresponding changes to Principle 3 of its ESEA flexibility request, and the information Washington submitted February 1, 2013, in response to peer and ED feedback, it is determined that Washington has not yet adopted guidelines for teacher and principal evaluation and support systems that meet all requirements of ESEA flexibility.

In particular, Washington has not yet determined how it will measure student growth for English Learners and students with disabilities. Washington also has not fully determined how it will measure growth for teachers of students in non-tested grades and subjects, nor has Washington finalized consequences for educators who receive low student growth ratings. This determination is consistent with the condition that ED placed on the July 19, 2012 approval of Washington’s request for ESEA flexibility. Accordingly, in order to receive full approval of its ESEA flexibility request through the 2013–2014 school year, Washington must continue its work to satisfy the condition placed on the approval of its request and, prior to the end of the 2012–2013 school year, submit evidence that it has satisfied the condition along with a request for an extension of the approval of its request, as indicated in ED’s July 19, 2012 letter.

On February 1, 2013, Washington submitted Chapter 392-191A of the Washington Administrative Code, which outlines regulations for teacher and principal evaluation systems and requires each focused evaluation to use student growth data. ED accepted this information to satisfy the condition related to Washington’s commitment to seeking a legislative change to require that focused educator evaluations include student growth.

Please keep in mind that Washington must submit additional evidence that satisfies the condition originally placed on its approved request as well as the additional outstanding requirements identified above before receiving approval to continue implementing ESEA flexibility during the 2013-2014 school year. Should Washington wish to make any other changes that affect its implementation of ESEA flexibility, it may need to amend its approved ESEA flexibility request. If you have any questions regarding the amendment process or anything else related to Washington’s implementation of ESEA flexibility, please contact Leslie Clithero at (202) 260-1840 or leslie.clithero@ed.gov

A copy of Washington’s Principle 3 submission will be posted on ED’s Web site at: www.ed.gov/esea/flexibiity/request

I look forward to Washington’s continued progress in fully implementing ESEA flexibility and to continuing to support the State as you work to improve the quality of instruction and academic achievement for all students in Washington. Thank you for your commitment to all students in Washington.

Sincerely,

/s/

Deborah S. Delisle
Assistant Secretary
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

cc: Bob Harmon, Assistant Superintendent, Special Programs and Federal Accountability

Secretary’s Extended end of year Extended Approval Letter for Washington ESEA Flexibility

August 14, 2013

The Honorable Randy Dorn
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Washington Department of Public Instruction
P.O. Box 47200
Olympia, WA 98504

Dear Superintendent Dorn:

I am writing in response to Washington’s July 19, 2013 request to extend approval of its ESEA flexibility request through the end of the 2013–2014 school year. Currently, Washington’s ESEA flexibility request is approved through the end of the 2012–2013 school year, subject to the conditions that Washington submit to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) for review and approval an amended request incorporating: (1) the final version of the new index, including by attaching to the amended request any technical documentation, administrative rules, and other relevant information; and (2) rules regarding the use of student growth as a significant factor in teacher and principal evaluation and support systems.

On March 26, 2013, I sent you a letter indicating that Washington had not yet adopted guidelines for teacher and principal evaluation and support systems that met all of the requirements of ESEA flexibility and needed to continue working to address the condition it received when approved for ESEA flexibility.

In February 2013, through Part A monitoring, ED learned that Washington will not begin using its new index in the 2013–2014 school year as it had originally planned. Rather, Washington will delay implementation of that system until the 2014–2015 school year. In the interim, Washington will continue to meet all requirements of ESEA flexibility as it did in the 2012–2013 school year by continuing to implement its transitional accountability system. As such, I have determined that the condition on Washington’s ESEA flexibility request is moot. I additionally note that on February 28, 2013, Washington submitted an amended ESEA flexibility request to ED that reflects the new timeline for implementing its new index and demonstrates that Washington will continue to meet all requirements of ESEA flexibility during the 2013–2014 school year.

As a result, I am lifting this condition on the approval of Washington’s ESEA flexibility request. Please note that prior to the end of the 2013–2014 school year, Washington, like other Window 1 and Window 2 States approved to implement ESEA flexibility, may request an additional extension of the waivers granted through ESEA flexibility. Please also note that this approval is not an approval of the new index that I understand Washington intends to implement in the 2014–2015 school year. In order to receive approval to implement any system of differentiated recognition, accountability, and support that differs from the system that Washington is being approved to use today through the end of the 2013–2014 school year, Washington will be required to submit a final version of that system to ED for review and approval.

On July 19, 2013, Washington submitted an amended request intended to support extension of its approval for ESEA flexibility through the 2013−2014 school year. This request included evidence of Washington’s continued work to meet its condition to provide rules regarding the use of student growth as a significant factor in teacher and principal evaluation and support systems.

Although staff from your office provided information about how Washington intends to incorporate student growth as a significant factor in teacher and principal evaluation and support systems, ED staff learned that Washington’s interpretation of including student growth as a significant factor in educator evaluation systems is inconsistent with the ESEA Flexibility definition of “student growth”. Specifically, in accordance with Washington State law, a local educational agency (LEA) has discretion as to whether or not to include data from Statewide assessments in determining a teacher’s student growth rating. Since Washington’s rules on the incorporation of student growth as a significant factor in teacher and principal evaluation systems do not incorporate the ESEA Flexibility definition of student growth, and Washington has not yet committed to requiring all LEAs to incorporate the results of Statewide assessments as a measure of student growth beginning in the 2014−2015 school year, the rules that Washington submitted regarding the use of student growth as a significant factor in teacher and principal evaluation and support systems are insufficient to address this condition.

Accordingly, I have determined that Washington has failed to meet the second condition that was placed on the approval of its ESEA flexibility request. However, in its July 19 letter requesting to extend ESEA flexibility through the 2013-2014 school year, Washington committed to seeking a legislative change to ensure that Washington’s definition of “student growth” aligns with the definition described in ESEA Flexibility. In light of Washington’s on-going efforts to meet the condition and the ESEA flexibility requirements relevant to that condition, I am granting Washington’s request to extend approval of its ESEA flexibility request through the end of the 2013–2014 school year, subject to the condition that Washington complete the actions listed below. In addition, pursuant to the authority in 34 C.F.R. § 80.12, I am placing Washington on high-risk status.

In order to have the condition on the approval of its ESEA flexibility request lifted and its high-risk designation removed, Washington must:

  • Submit to ED, no later than 30 calendar days from the date of this letter, a high-quality plan describing Washington’s work during the 2013−2014 school year to ensure its teacher and principal evaluation systems meet the requirements of ESEA flexibility. The plan must, at a minimum, include:
    • A description of Washington’s process to seek legislative change to incorporate student growth, as defined by ESEA Flexibility, as a significant factor in teacher and principal evaluation systems in all LEAs throughout the State at the beginning of the 2014−2015 school year;
    • A description of how Washington will study and collect data about how student growth ratings are provided when a teacher participates as a member of a grade-level, subject matter, or other instructional team within a school, which should explain how Washington will ensure that the use of shared attribution of student growth does not mask the high or low performance of individual teachers; and
    • Washington’s plan for ensuring that LEAs will include student growth as a significant factor, in accordance with the definition included in ESEA flexibility, in time for LEAs to fully implement evaluation and support systems consistent with ESEA flexibility requirements in the 2014−2015 school year.
  • Following ED’s Part B monitoring of Washington’s ESEA flexibility implementation, which is scheduled for October 2013, provide updates to ED on a monthly basis on its progress in carrying out its high-quality plan to address the outstanding condition on the approval of its ESEA flexibility request and ensure its teacher and principal evaluation and support system meets the principles of ESEA flexibility.
  • By May 1, 2014, submit to ED an amended request that incorporates final guidelines for teacher and principal evaluation and support systems that meet the requirements of ESEA flexibility, including the use of student growth, as defined in ESEA Flexibility, as a significant factor in determining teacher and principal performance levels. Since under Washington state law student growth data elements may include the teacher’s performance as a member of a grade-level, subject matter, or other instructional team within a school, along with the amended request, Washington must provide business rules defining these teams of teachers and explaining how student growth is calculated for a team. Washington must also provide data to demonstrate that Washington’s use of shared attribution of student growth does not mask high or low performance of educators.

Please note that should Washington request renewal of its ESEA flexibility request beyond the 2013–2014 school year, ED would not be able to grant that request for renewal until the issues that resulted in Washington’s continued condition and high-risk status are resolved. If those issues cannot be resolved prior to the start of the 2014–2015 school year, Washington may not be able to continue with its implementation of ESEA flexibility beyond the 2013–2014 school year.

Washington may request reconsideration of its high-risk designation by submitting in writing to me, no later than 10 business days from the date of this letter, a detailed discussion setting forth the basis for its belief that this designation is improper, including the specific facts that support its position. If Washington chooses to request such reconsideration, that request must be submitted via email to me, with a copy to Leslie Clithero, as well as by U.S. mail or commercial delivery. If I do not receive a request for reconsideration by August 28, 2013, Washington’s high- risk status will be considered final and will be lifted only upon completing the actions set forth above.

Washington continues to have an affirmative responsibility to ensure that it and its districts are in compliance with Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and age in their implementation of ESEA flexibility, as well as their implementation of all other Federal education programs. These laws include Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

If you have any questions regarding this letter or the implementation of Washington’s ESEA flexibility request, please not hesitate to contact of my staff at: Leslie.Clithero@ed.gov or (202) 260-1840. Thank you for your continued focus on enhancing education for all of Washington’s children.

Sincerely,

/s/

Deborah S. Delisle
Assistant Secretary

cc: Gil Mendoza, Assistant Superintendent

Secretary’s Letter to Washington ESEA Flexibility

 

April 24, 2014

Honorable Randy Dorn
Superintendent of Public Instruction
State Department of Public Instruction
P.O. Box 47200
Olympia, WA 98504

Dear Superintendent Dorn:

This letter responds to your letter of March 27, 2014, in which you formally requested a one-year extension of the flexibility I granted to Washington under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). I appreciate your continuing interest in ESEA flexibility and was pleased to hear that, as a State leader, you believe it has enabled school improvement efforts in Washington to significantly increase student achievement.

As you know, Washington’s request for ESEA flexibility was approved based on Washington’s commitments to carry out certain actions in support of key education reforms. In return for those commitments, we granted your State and your local school districts significant flexibility. However, Washington has not been able to keep all of its commitments. Thus, although Washington has benefitted from ESEA flexibility, I regret that Washington’s flexibility will end with the 2013–2014 school year.

One of the commitments that Washington — and every State that received ESEA flexibility — made was to put in place teacher and principal evaluation and support systems that take into account information on student learning growth based on high-quality college- and career-ready (CCR) State assessments as a significant factor in determining teacher and principal performance levels, along with other measures of professional practice such as classroom observations. These systems also require that all teachers and principals receive robust, timely, and meaningful feedback on their performance and support in order to inform and improve instruction so that all students meet the expectations of new CCR standards. Including student learning growth as a significant factor among the multiple measures used to determine performance levels is important as an objective measure to differentiate among teachers and principals who have made significantly different contributions to student learning growth and closing achievement gaps.

Because Washington first made that commitment in its waiver application of February 27, 2012, and Washington was unable to take the steps necessary to fulfill that commitment even after having been given an additional school year (2012–2013) to do so, it was placed on high-risk status on August 14, 2013. Washington’s high-risk designation specified that the State must submit, by May 1, 2014, final guidelines for teacher and principal evaluation and support systems that meet the requirements of ESEA flexibility, including requiring local educational agencies (LEAs) to use student achievement on CCR State assessments to measure student learning growth in those systems for teachers of tested grades and subjects. Your March 27, 2014, letter indicates that the State will be unable to provide such guidelines. I recognize that requiring the use of statewide assessments to measure student learning growth requires a legislative change, and that Governor Inslee and your office worked diligently to obtain that change. I thank you for your leadership and courage in those efforts.

However, because those efforts were unsuccessful, and your legislature is not scheduled to reconvene until January 2015, I cannot extend Washington’s authority to implement ESEA flexibility, and Washington and its LEAs must resume implementing the requirements of Title I of the ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), as well as all other ESEA requirements that were waived under ESEA flexibility, for the 2014–2015 school year. This means that, among other actions that the State and LEAs will have to resume, LEAs in Washington must once again set aside 20 percent of their Title I funds for public school choice and supplemental educational services rather than having the flexibility to use those funds for other activities to improve student achievement in low-achieving schools. Should Washington obtain the requisite authority to resolve its condition, I would be pleased to reconsider Washington’s request to implement ESEA flexibility at any time.

I appreciate that transitioning back to NCLB is not desirable, and will not be simple. Attached for your reference is a list of NCLB requirements with which the State and its LEAs must resume complying starting with the 2014–2015 school year. Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Deborah Delisle will follow up with you to discuss the transition and help you think about ways to preserve the gains Washington has made under ESEA flexibility.

Thank you again for your leadership and your efforts to keep the commitments Washington made in its ESEA flexibility request. Thank you, as well, for your continued focus on enhancing education for all of Washington’s children.

Sincerely,

/s/

Arne Duncan

Enclosure

Washington Field Testing Flexibility Determination Letter

February 12, 2014

The Honorable Randy Dorn
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction
PO Box 47200
Olympia, WA 98504-7200

Dear Superintendent Dorn:

I am writing in response to the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s (OSPI) request on behalf of selected schools to waive certain statutory and regulatory requirements of Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended. Specifically, OSPI has requested on behalf of the selected schools a one-year waiver to allow the State to field test in 2013–2014 assessments in mathematics and reading/language arts aligned to college- and career-ready standards developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) in lieu of the State’s assessments in grade 3 through 8 and high school. OSPI has also requested flexibility in making accountability determinations for the selected schools.

I am pleased to grant, pursuant to my authority under section 9401 of the ESEA, a one-year waiver of the following statutory and regulatory requirements under Title I, Part A of the ESEA and their associated regulatory provisions:

  • ESEA sections 1111(b)(1)(B) and 1111(b)(3)(C)(i), which require a State educational agency (SEA) to apply the same academic achievement standards, and to use the same academic assessments, for all public school children in the State. OSPI requested these waivers so that any individual student within Washington will be permitted to take only one assessment in each content area in 2013–2014 — either the current State assessment or the full form of the field test of the new assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards.
  • ESEA section 1111(b)(3)(C)(xii), which requires the provision of individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports that include information regarding achievement on State assessments to parents, teachers, and principals as soon as is practically possible after an assessment is given. OSPI requested this waiver to permit OSPI and its local educational agencies (LEAs) to refrain from producing or providing these reports for a student’s performance on a field test.
  • ESEA sections 1111(h)(1)(C)(ii) and 1111(h)(2)(B), which require an SEA and an LEA, respectively, to report on performance against annual measurable objectives (AMOs). OSPI requested these waivers to permit OSPI and its LEAs to refrain from reporting performance against AMOs for any school or single-school LEA that participates in the field test of the new assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards.

This waiver is granted to OSPI on the condition that it will implement the following assurances:

  • OSPI and its LEAs will ensure that all students in the tested grades who do not take a field test in a particular subject will take the current State assessment in that subject, as required by the ESEA.
  • OSPI and its LEAs will report performance against AMOs for a subject that is not being field tested in a school that participates in the field test, for all schools that do not participate in the field test, and for all LEAs (except single-school LEAs that participate in the field test of a tested subject) based on current State assessments administered in the 2013–2014 school year.
  • OSPI and its LEAs will meet all reporting obligations with respect to reporting the actual achievement of students who take the current State assessments.
  • OSPI has properly notified all LEAs and schools that will participate in the field test of that participation.
  • OSPI has ensured that parents of students in each school participating in the field test have been notified of the school’s participation, including by ensuring that the notification to parents includes a discussion of the implications of the school’s participation in the field test and a notification of whether the parents’ child will participate in the field test.
  • In the 2014–2015 school year, OSPI will administer the new reading/language arts and mathematics assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards, as well as its State science assessments, to all students in the grades required to be tested in accordance with the ESEA.

Please be aware that this waiver of Washington’s standards and assessment system under the ESEA is not a determination that the system complies with Federal civil rights requirements, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This waiver also does not apply to statutory and regulatory requirements regarding science assessments under Title I, Part A of the ESEA.

I hope you find this flexibility helpful. I look forward to working with you and your staff as you implement this flexibility and as you continue working to improve education in Washington.

Sincerely,

/s/

Deborah S. Delisle
Assistant Secretary

cc: Gil Mendoza, Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent Special Programs and Federal Accountability

Secretary’s Field Testing Flexibility Determination Letter ESEA Flexibility

January 30, 2014

The Honorable Rebecca Holcombe
Secretary of Education
State of Vermont, Agency of Education
120 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05620

Dear Secretary Holcombe:

I am writing in response to the Vermont Agency of Education’s (VAE’s) request on behalf of selected schools to waiver to allow the district to field test in 2013–2014 assessments in mathematics and reading/language arts aligned to college- and career-ready standards developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and alternate assessments for students with the most severe cognitive disabilities developed by Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM), in lieu of the State’s assessments in grades 3 through 8 and high school. VAE also requested flexibility in making accountability determinations.

I am pleased to grant, pursuant to my authority under section 9401 of the ESEA, a one-year waiver of the following statutory and regulatory requirements under Title I, Part A of the ESEA, as amended, and their associated regulatory provisions:

  • ESEA sections 1111(b)(1)(B) and 1111(b)(3)(C)(i), which require a State educational agency (SEA) to apply the same academic achievement standards, and to use the same academic assessments, for all public school children in the State. VAE requested these waivers so that any individual student within Vermont will be permitted to take only one assessment in each content area in 2013–2014 — either the current State assessment or the full form of the field test of the new assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards.
  • ESEA section 1111(b)(3)(C)(xii), which requires the provision of individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports that include information regarding achievement on State assessments to parents, teachers, and principals as soon as is practically possible after an assessment is given. VAE requested this waiver to permit VAE and its local educational agencies (LEAs) to refrain from producing or providing these reports for a student’s performance on a field test.
  • ESEA sections 1111(h)(1)(C)(ii) and 1111(h)(2)(B), which require an SEA and LEA to report on performance against annual measurable objectives (AMOs). VAE requested these waivers to permit VAE and its LEAs to refrain from reporting performance against AMOs for any school, or single-school LEA that participates in the field test of the new assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards.
  • ESEA sections 1116(a)(1)(A) and 1116(c)(1)(A), which require an LEA and an SEA, respectively, to use the State’s academic assessments and other academic indicators to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations for schools and LEAs. VAE requested this waiver to permit an LEA within Vermont that has one or more schools participating in the field test to refrain from making AYP determinations for each of those schools and to permit VAE to refrain from making AYP determinations for a single-school LEA participating in the field test.

This waiver is granted to the VAE on the condition that it will implement the following assurances:

  • The VAE and its LEAs will ensure that all students in the tested grades who do not take a field test in a particular subject will take the current State assessment in that subject, as required by the ESEA.
  • The VAE and its LEAs will make AYP determinations for all schools that do not participate in the field test and for all LEAs except single-school LEAs that participate in the field test based on current State assessments administered in 2013-2014 school year.
  • The VAE and its LEAs will report performance against AMOs for a subject that is not being field tested in a school that participates in the field test, for all schools that do not participate in the field test, and for all LEAs (except single-school LEAs that participate in the field test of a tested subject)
  • The VAE and its LEAs will meet all reporting obligations with respect to reporting the actual achievement of students who take the current State assessments.
  • The VAE has properly notified all LEAs and schools that will participate in the field test of that participation.
  • The VAE has ensured that parents of students in each school participating in the field test have been notified of the school’s participation, including by ensuring that the notification to parents includes a discussion of the implications of the school’s participation in the field test and a notification of whether the parents’ individual child will participate in the field test.
  • In 2014–2015, the VAE will administer the new reading/language arts and mathematics assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards, as well as its State science assessments, to all students in the grades required to be tested in accordance with the ESEA.
  • The VAE will resume making AYP determinations for all schools and all single-school LEAs based on assessments administered in the 2014–2015 school year.

Please be aware that this waiver of Vermont’s standards and assessment system under the ESEA is not a determination that the system complies with Federal civil rights requirements, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This waiver also does not apply to statutory and regulatory requirements regarding science assessments under Title I, Part A of the ESEA.

I hope you find this flexibility helpful. I look forward to working with you and your staff as you implement this flexibility and as you continue working to improve education in Vermont.

Sincerely,

/s/

Deborah S. Delisle

cc: Michael Hock