ESEA FLEXIBILITY INFORMATION FROM STATE SUPERINTENDENT STEVEN R. STAPLES
January 12, 2015
Opportunity to Comment on Virginia’s Application for a Four-Year Renewal 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 original waiver request to USED in February 2012. After numerous amendments, a revised ESEA flexibility application was approved in March 2013. The terms of the waiver were effective for two years, or through the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
In November 2013, USED invited eligible states to request a one-year extension of ESEA flexibility through the end of the 2014-2015 school year. Virginia’s amended ESEA flexibility extension application was submitted to USED in March 2014 and subsequently approved in July 2014. Additional information about Virginia’s 2014 amended ESEA flexibility extension application, including a summary of amendments, is available on the Department’s ESEA Flexibility Web site: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/federal_programs/esea/flexibility/index.shtml.
ESEA Flexibility Renewal through the 2018-2019 School Year
In November 2014, USED invited eligible states to request a renewal of ESEA flexibility for up to four years, or through the 2018-2019 school year. A state seeking a renewal of ESEA flexibility must submit to USED a completed ESEA Flexibility Renewal Form and a redlined version of its ESEA Flexibility Renewal Application indicating: 1) updates to its implementation plan; 2) process for continuous improvement across the three flexibility principles; and 3) details of amendments to the plan, if applicable. The deadline to submit an ESEA flexibility renewal request to USED is March 31, 2015; however, Virginia is one of seven states eligible to submit its request by January 30, 2015, for an expedited review as a result of the state’s timely implementation of its ESEA flexibility plan as outlined in its 2014 amended ESEA flexibility extension application. The USED anticipates that any state submitting its ESEA flexibility renewal application in January 2015 will receive a status update by late March 2015. To ensure that Virginia school divisions are notified as early as possible about 2015-2016 federal accountability provisions, Virginia is opting to submit its application in January for the expedited review.
In preparation to submit an ESEA flexibility renewal request, the Virginia Department of Education has completed the required ESEA Flexibility Renewal Form and redlined revisions to the ESEA Flexibility Renewal Application. Minor revisions were made to Virginia’s renewal application to reflect programmatic and implementation updates across the three flexibility principles that have already been enacted. Revisions that qualify as amendments to the 2014 amended ESEA flexibility extension application are listed in the chart below:
Flexibility Element(s) Affected by the Amendment
Page Number(s) Affected in Redlined Request
Brief Description of Requested Amendment
|Update criteria for one reward school category: Virginia Index of Performance (VIP) Incentives Program||Page 75||Delete one award category, the Competence to Excellence Award, and add the Board of Education Distinguished Achievement Award.||These category changes reflect updates made to the VIP awards as approved by the Board of Education in 2013.|
|Criteria to determine if a school identified as a focus school has made sufficient progress to exit focus school status||Page 103||Delete the first exit criterion requiring that the proficiency gap group(s) for which the school was originally identified meet(s) the AMOs for two consecutive years. Maintain the criterion for the focus school to no longer fall in the bottom 10 percent of Title I schools with subgroup proficiency gaps.||Although conceptually sound, maintaining the first criterion to exit focus school status had the unintended consequence of keeping schools on the focus school list that had smaller subgroup proficiency gaps than other Title I schools demonstrating a greater need for support in this area. To be able to serve the Title I schools with the greatest gaps in subgroup proficiency, the state must use a one-step ranking method and select as focus schools those 10% with the highest gaps for subgroups as compared to the other schools.|
Additionally, Virginia is planning to begin using value tables as a measure of growth instead of student growth percentiles (SGPs) during the 2015-2016 school year. As compared to SGPs, value tables would more accurately recognize success in closing the achievement gap while providing teachers and principals with growth data more representative of the students being taught in their classroom and schools. A description of value tables and the rationale for replacing SGPs with value tables are available on pages 163-164 of the renewal application.
It is important to note that USED approval of Virginia’s ESEA flexibility renewal request does not preclude additional amendments to the state’s ESEA flexibility implementation plan. The Virginia Department of Education, on behalf of the Virginia Board of Education, will continue to engage stakeholders in discussions about continuous improvement to the state’s federal accountability plan during appropriate opportunities in the future. Virginia may submit amendments to the state’s federal accountability plan, as needed, following USED approval of state’s ESEA flexibility renewal request.
Opportunity to Comment on Virginia’s ESEA Flexibility Renewal Request
The Virginia Department of Education welcomes comments on its ESEA flexibility renewal request. Comments may be submitted electronically by Tuesday, January 20, 2015, to ESEA@doe.virginia.gov. Comments may also be presented in person during one of the following public meetings:
Board of Education Committee on School and Division Accountability
Wednesday, January 21, 2015, at 1 p.m.
Board of Education Business Meeting
Thursday, January 22, 2015, at 9 a.m.
Both meetings will convene in the Jefferson Conference Room, 22nd floor, James Monroe Building, 101 N. 14th Street, Richmond, Virginia. Speakers intending to present comment at either meeting above are encouraged to contact Melissa Luchau, director of Board relations, at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to be placed on the speaker list.
Department staff will present a report on the ESEA flexibility renewal request process and a summary of revisions to the state’s ESEA flexibility plan at the January 22 Board meeting listed above. The Board report will be accessible at the following link beginning the week of January 19, 2015: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/meetings/index.shtml.Comments or questions regarding Virginia’s ESEA Flexibility Renewal Application or the ESEA flexibility renewal process may be submitted to ESEA@doe.virginia.gov.