ESEA FLEXIBILITY INFORMATION FROM STATE SUPERINTENDENT PATRICIA I. WRIGHT
February 12, 2014
Update on Virginia’s Application for a One-Year Extension of Waivers from Certain Requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA)
Background on ESEA Flexibility
In September 2011, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) offered states flexibility regarding specific requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), 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 (ESEA flexibility). To be granted flexibility from ESEA requirements, states had to submit applications requesting waivers and outlining the state-developed plans to accomplish the goals above by implementing reforms aligned with the following principles:
- Principle 1 – College- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments to ensure that every student graduates from high school college and career ready;
- Principle 2 – Targeted and differentiated accountability systems, rigorous supports and interventions to the lowest-performing schools and schools with the lowest graduation rates, and identification of support to low-achieving students based on need; and
- Principle 3 – Teacher and principal evaluation and support systems that provide teachers and principals with the feedback and support needed to improve practice and increase student achievement.
Virginia submitted its waiver request to USED in February 2012, or “Window 2” of the submission process. After numerous amendments, the final revised ESEA flexibility application was approved in March 2013. The terms of the waiver are effective for two years, through the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
One-Year ESEA Flexibility Extension
In November 2013, USED issued a letter to state superintendents (Attachment A) inviting “Window 1” and “Window 2” states to request a one-year extension of ESEA flexibility through the end of the 2014-2015 school year. A state seeking an extension of ESEA flexibility must:
1) submit a letter to USED requesting an extension of ESEA flexibility and describing how the flexibility has been effective in enabling the state to carry out the activities for which the flexibility was requested and how the flexibility has contributed to improved student achievement; and 2) resolve any state-specific issues and or action items identified as a result of USED’s Part B monitoring of ESEA flexibility, including by submitting, as necessary and where applicable, a revised application. A state may also submit additional amendment requests through a revised application.
States must submit ESEA flexibility extension requests to USED by February 28, 2014, or within 60 days of receipt of the ESEA flexibility Part B monitoring report. On September 30, 2014, USED conducted Part B monitoring of the state’s implementation of ESEA flexibility provisions. Virginia has not yet received an official monitoring report from USED.
Virginia plans to request the one-year extension for ESEA flexibility. As part of the request, the state will include an amended ESEA flexibility application with updates to Principles 1 and 3. The Department also anticipates requesting an amendment to Principle 2.
Amendment to Principle 2 – Methodology to Calculate Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) and School Accountability Determinations
At its October 2012 meeting, the Virginia Board of Education approved and USED accepted a revised annual measurable objective (AMO) methodology applied to a six-year trajectory. The methodology requires lower-performing subgroups to make greater gains in pass rates to close the achievement gap in reading and mathematics. The Board also established new continuous progress expectations for higher-performing subgroups. The policy requires that subgroups with a prior year pass rate higher than the current year’s target maintain or exceed the prior year pass rate, within five percent, and up to 90 percent. Also, subgroups with a starting pass rate higher than the required Year 6 pass rate are expected to make continuous progress. To mitigate the unintended consequences of the higher expectations embedded among the provisions to meet AMOs, the Department of Education will propose to the Board that these higher expectations be used as an incentive for schools and subgroups. Additional details about the proposed change to the AMO methodology and its effect on school accountability determinations are available in Attachment B.
Virginia Board of Education Review and Submission to USED
On Thursday, February 27, 2014, the Board will receive for first review Virginia’s amended ESEA flexibility application. The full Board item and application will be accessible at the following link beginning February 20, 2014: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/meetings/index.shtml. It is anticipated that the amended application will be presented to the Board of Education for final review on March 27, 2014, pending Virginia’s timely receipt of USED’s ESEA flexibility Part B monitoring report. Following the Board’s final review of the amended application, Virginia will submit to USED a one-year extension of ESEA flexibility along with the amended application.
Comments or questions regarding Virginia’s revised ESEA flexibility application or the ESEA flexibility extension process may be submitted to ESEA@doe.virginia.gov.