Today the U.S. Department of Education issued a letter to the Kansas State Department of Education granting the waiver they had requested. Now Kansas joins Missouri and more than half the states on the list of those no longer required to comply with the terms of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Here is Kansas’ announcement and a copy of the letter the state received from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan:
TOPEKA – The U.S. Department of Education today approved Kansas’ request for flexibility in meeting some of the provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation.
For immediate release:
July 19, 2012
Kathy Toelkes, Director of Communications, 785-296-4876
Kansas gains approval for ESEA flexibility request
New school accountability system to be in place for 2012-2013 school year
TOPEKA – The U.S. Department of Education today approved Kansas’ request for flexibility in meeting some of the provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. With the approval, the accountability system for Kansas schools will shift from ensuring a prescribed percentage of students achieve proficiency on state reading and math assessments each year to ensuring schools achieve a prescribed level of improvement on at least one of several Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) established by the state.
“I’m extremely pleased with the plan that has been advanced with the approval of our state’s flexibility request,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Diane DeBacker. “An accountability system based on student growth and multiple measures is a key component of our waiver and I believe it will result in a far more meaningful assessment of the progress and success of Kansas schools.”
Kansas submitted its application for flexibility last February after the Obama administration announced an initiative to grant states waivers from some of the NCLB provisions, provided they demonstrated movement toward a number of education reforms. The waiver was sought in an effort to move away from a narrowly defined accountability system that relied solely upon achieving specific performance targets on state assessments in reading and mathematics, and required 100 percent proficiency in those subject areas by 2014. With the waiver in place, the state can now look to multiple measures to assess the performance of Kansas schools in helping all students achieve.
The new accountability system will be in place for the upcoming 2012-2013 school year. Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) will still be determined for the 2011-2012 school year; however, a previous waiver allows the state to use the 2010-2011 AYP targets in determining AYP for the 2011-2012 school year. AYP results for the recently completed school year will be included in report cards which will be released in September.
Another key component of the state’s waiver is related to evaluating teachers and school leaders. Among the criteria for achieving a waiver request was implementing an evaluation system that includes student achievement as a significant factor in the evaluation. The Kansas plan calls for appointing a commission to identify the most effective means of tying student achievement to teacher and leader evaluations and building that into the existing Kansas Educator Evaluation Protocol (KEEP). KEEP will be a model evaluation system that districts may adopt, or they may build their own evaluation system that incorporates the guidelines specified in the Kansas plan, including the tie to student achievement. KEEP will be piloted in 2013-2014 and will be ready for full implementation by 2014-2015. Districts opting to use an evaluation system other than KEEP must achieve full implementation by 2014-2015, as well. The state’s waiver is conditioned on completing the plan to tie student performance to teacher and principal evaluations.
“The review process took a little longer than we had anticipated, but I believe we gained a stronger plan through the process,” DeBacker said. “It was important to me and to our State Board of Education that the integrity of the Kansas plan was preserved, and I believe it has been. I’m looking forward to sharing the details with school districts and working toward implementation.”
July 19, 2012
Honorable Diane DeBacker
Commissioner of Education
Kansas State Department of Education
120 SE 10th Avenue
Topeka, KS 66612
Dear Commissioner DeBacker:
I am pleased to approve Kansas’ request for ESEA flexibility, subject to Kansas’ meeting the condition described below. I congratulate you on submitting a request that demonstrates Kansas’ commitment to improving academic achievement and the quality of instruction for all of the State’s elementary and secondary school students.
Last fall, 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 Kansas’ request.
Our decision to approve Kansas’ request for ESEA flexibility, subject to Kansas’ meeting the condition discussed below, 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, Kansas 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 Kansas’ assurance that it will meet these four principles by implementing the high-quality plans and other elements as described in its request and in accordance with the required timelines. In approving Kansas’ request, we have taken into consideration the feedback we received from the panel of peer experts and Department staff who reviewed Kansas’ request, as well as Kansas’ revisions to its request in response to that feedback.
The waivers that comprise ESEA flexibility are being granted to Kansas 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 2012–2013 school year. If Kansas meets the condition described below prior to the end of the 2012–2013 school year, Kansas may request an extension of these waivers through the end of the 2013–2014 school year. At that time, Kansas, like other States with approved requests, may request an additional extension of these waivers through the 2014–2015 school year.
In the coming days, you will receive a letter from Deborah Delisle, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, containing additional information regarding Kansas’ implementation of ESEA flexibility, as well as information regarding monitoring and reporting. Please note that the Department will closely monitor Kansas’ 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.
Our decision to place a condition on the approval of Kansas’ request is based on the fact that Kansas’ plan to develop and adopt guidelines for teacher and principal evaluation and support systems does not include a commitment to adopt a method for including student growth as a significant factor as part of those guidelines by the end of the 2011–2012 school year. Rather, Kansas has committed to submitting guidelines that include all other necessary elements by the end of the 2011–2012 school year, and indeed has already submitted those guidelines for review, and to submitting final guidelines that include the State’s method for including student growth as a significant factor by the end of the 2012–2013 school year. However, we have determined that Kansas is able to fully meet the ESEA flexibility principles in the 2012–2013 school year while Kansas pilots the use of student growth as a significant factor in its teacher and principal evaluation and support systems, which will inform the final guidelines to be submitted at the end of that year and will enable districts in Kansas to pilot evaluation and support systems consistent with those guidelines no later than the 2013–2014 school year.
To receive approval to implement ESEA flexibility through the end of the 2013–2014 school year, Kansas must submit to the Department for review and approval an amended request incorporating its final guidelines for teacher and principal evaluation and support systems consistent with all requirements for these systems under principle 3 of ESEA flexibility. If Kansas’ amended request fails to demonstrate that its final method for determining a teacher’s or principal’s summative evaluation rating includes student growth as a significant factor, the waivers being granted to Kansas through ESEA flexibility will expire at the end of the 2012–2013 school year, and Kansas and its districts will be required to immediately resume complying with all ESEA requirements.
Kansas 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 Kansas’ 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 Kansas’ 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 Kansas’ ESEA flexibility request and work to improve the quality of instruction and academic achievement for all students.
Governor Sam Brownback
Judi Miller, Assistant Director of Federal Programs
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