U.S. Department of Education Approves ESEA Flexibility Renewal for 7 States, D.C.
News Release from US DoE, June 23, 2015
Building on the significant progress seen in America’s schools over the last six years, the U.S. Department of Education announced today that Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, New York, West Virginia and the District of Columbia have each received multiple years of continued flexibility from provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
These states and D.C. are implementing comprehensive state-designed plans to ensure student success and a continued commitment to college- and career-readiness for every student.
“The last six years have seen dramatic progress for America’s school children. The high school dropout rate is down, and graduation rates are higher than they have ever been,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “As a result of our partnerships with state and district leaders to couple flexibility with reform, we are seeing remarkable strides and bold actions to improve student outcomes. States, districts, principals and teachers are showing incredible creativity in using different means to achieve the same goal - getting every student in America college- and career-ready.”
The Department granted flexibility and approved waivers for 42 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia from the burdens of the existing law in order to support improved achievement in schools. All of the states up for renewal have submitted or will soon submit a request to extend their flexibility, and Nebraska requested a waiver from the law for the first time ever. More renewal decisions will follow in the weeks to come.
Since this flexibility was first granted in 2012, the Department has partnered with state and district leaders to provide relief from some provisions of NCLB in exchange for taking bold actions to improve student outcomes and ensure equity for all students. Under NCLB, schools were given many ways to fail but very few opportunities to succeed. The law forc (sic)
Under flexibility plans, states continue to focus resources on comprehensive, rigorous interventions in their lowest-performing schools and supports to help the neediest students meet high expectations alongside their peers. States have also focused on improving teacher and principal effectiveness across the country with evaluation and support systems that are used for continual improvement of instruction, provide clear, timely, and useful feedback, including feedback that identifies needs and guides professional development, and can be used to recognize and reward highly effective educators, as well as to inform important conversations about ensuring equitable access to effective educators for students from low-income families and students of color.
In March, the Department approved five state requests for ESEA flexibility - Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina and Virginia—for an additional four years, through the 2018-2019 school year. Today’s announcement gives Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, West Virginia and the District of Columbia a three-year flexibility renewal through the 2017-18 school year, and New York a four-year renewal through the 2018-19 school year.
A strong, bipartisan reauthorization of ESEA, which has been due for Congressional action since 2007, remains the first priority for the Department. But until a new law is in place, NCLB continues to stand. This means states need a new round of waivers that provide flexibility from top-down, prescriptive provisions of the law so that they can continue implementing innovative changes that ensure all children receive a high-quality education. These renewals provide states with stability as they continue to work on preparing all students for success in college, careers and life.
- The Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) has aligned its reform efforts and internal systems and processes to leverage progress toward outcomes. The state’s strategic plan is the guiding vision that connects the approved request for ESEA flexibility and the Race to the Top plan by focusing on six key priority strategies: Common Core State Standards (CCSS); a comprehensive system of student supports, including Response to Intervention; formative instruction and the data teams process; the Educator Effectiveness System; induction and mentoring; and academic review teams.
- HIDOE has designed a comprehensive and integrated structure to provide customized support to schools and gather feedback to improve state office performance, through the use of its Complex Area Support Teams (CAST). These teams provide individualized technical assistance to Complex Areas and schools for each of the six priority strategies. All Complex Areas that have focus and priority schools, and charter schools designated as focus and priority schools, receive additional support and oversight through a state-funded academic officer.
- HIDOE engages in a variety of activities to support full implementation of common core. These activities include support through the CCSS CAST lead; access to CCSS-aligned implementation protocols, crosswalks, curriculum frameworks, webinars and sample performance tasks for English Language Arts and math on the state’s standards toolkit website; access to additional resources through the Open Educational Resources project; and selection of statewide curriculum materials vetted by teachers and state office staff.