Yesterday, I broke the news that the Delaware Department of Education was going to be submitting another ESEA waiver. Even though the Every Student Succeeds Act forbids these waiver schemes. I reached out to the Delaware DOE for more information on this latest waiver, and received the following information from Alison May, the Public Information Officer at the DOE. Below is what Alison sent me, including the letter Ann Whalen sent to all the states, along with the letter states would need to sign to get the waiver. Note the part I bolded which extends ESEA waivers well after ESSA will be implemented. There are serious games afoot here. Is John King already abusing his authority? Will Congressman John Kline (MN) intervene and stop this dead in its tracks?
Meanwhile, like with all previous ESEA flexibility waivers, state education agencies are required to get public comment on the waivers. With three weeks time, how can this happen? Some district boards don’t meet again until after the April 15th deadline. Don’t they also have to submit any ESEA waivers to the Delaware Education Support System (DESS) advisory council? How could that happen, as required by Delaware law, if the meeting scheduled for this week is canceled and no meetings are scheduled between now and April 22nd?
We are already losing a week due to Easter/Spring break. As well, the Delaware General Assembly will be off for two weeks after this week. How is the Delaware DOE going to make sure everyone sees this? Or is just merely putting a notice up, hidden away on their website, or sending out a tweet, sufficient? Thank God I find these things when I do! This is the same kind of non-transparent information they put out there like the Accountability Framework Working Group last year. They count on folks not looking for or even knowing where to find this information. Too bad they didn’t count on me!
If the Delaware DOE’s deadline is April 15th, and this information is due to US DOE on April 22nd, does this mean the State Board of Education will put it up as an action item at their April 21st meeting? Will they allow public comment on an action item which they typically don’t due to their archaic rules?
FW: FW: Letter from Senior Advisor Whalen re: Speaking and Listening Waiver People
Sent: Wednesday, March 02, 2016 9:17 AM
Subject: Letter from Senior Advisor Whalen re: Speaking and Listening Waiver
March 2, 2016
Dear Chief State School Officer:
This letter is following up on information I provided in fall 2015 regarding the peer review of State assessment systems. In a letter on September 25, 2015, I indicated that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) would provide additional information regarding how a State could request a limited waiver of the requirement that its assessment system cover the full range of its academic content standards for speaking and listening, if the State has adopted those as part of its reading/language arts standards.
Over the past several years, States have been working hard to establish and implement challenging, State-developed academic content standards and creating an assessment system that supports student learning and is aligned to those standards as part of a broader strategy to ensure that all students graduate from high school prepared for college and careers. ED is aware that many States have adopted speaking and listening content standards as part of their reading/language arts standards. However, we realize that measuring speaking and listening skills in a large-scale summative assessment may not be practicable at this time. Therefore, pursuant to section 8401(b) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), if a State’s reading/language arts content standards include speaking and listening standards, ED invites the State to submit a request for a limited waiver of section 1111(b)(3)(C)(ii) of the ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), so that the State’s assessment system need not measure the State’s speaking and listening standards at this time. ED is only inviting this waiver with respect to aligning assessments with speaking and listening standards.
If your State is interested in applying for this waiver, ED is providing the attached template to aid your request. A State may request a speaking and listening waiver through the 2016-2017 school year. ED will continue to work with States to develop best practices with respect to assessing speaking and listening on large-scale assessments and may allow States to request an extension of the waiver for subsequent years based on their demonstrated progress towards implementing an assessment that measures speaking and listening standards. Please note that receipt of this waiver does not alleviate the other requirements regarding the State’s assessment system as identified in the assessment peer review guidance, including the requirement to provide appropriate accommodations to all students, including students with disabilities and English learners.
In order to meet the requirements for a waiver under ESSA, a State must provide the public and any interested local educational agency (LEA) in the State with notice and a reasonable opportunity to comment and provide input on the request to the State. In addition, the State must provide notice and a reasonable time to comment to the public and LEAs in the manner in which the State customarily provides similar notice and opportunity to comment to the public. In order for this information to inform the peer review of your State’s assessment system this spring, we request interested States to submit their requests no later than April 22, 2016. This will enable ED to make timely decisions and allow your State to meet its deadline for submitting the remainder of its assessment documentation for peer review.
Please contact Patrick Rooney (Patrick.Rooney@ed.gov) or your OSS State contact (OSS.[State]@ed.gov) if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for your continued commitment to our nation’s students.
Senior Advisor to the Secretary Delegated the Duties of Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education
cc: State Title I Directors
State Assessment Directors
Council of Chief State School Officers
EXAMPLE OF REQUEST TO WAIVE THE SPEAKING AND LISTENING REQUIREMENT UNDER THE EVERY STUDENT SUCCEEDS ACT (ESSA)
Senior Advisor to the Secretary
Delegated the Duties of Assistant
Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202
Dear Ms. Whalen:
I am writing to request a waiver, pursuant to section 8401(b) of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), of section 1111(b)(3)(C)(ii) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), that [State]’s assessment system measure the full range of the State’s academic content standards. [State] requests this waiver only with respect to measuring the State’s speaking and listening content standards, which are part of the State’s reading/language arts academic content standards. [State] requests this waiver because it is not practicable at this time for [State] to administer a large-scale summative assessment that includes speaking and listening standards. This waiver will advance student achievement by permitting [State] to have a valid and reliable assessment system that measures the full range of the rest of the State’s academic content standards while providing time to complete the work necessary to have a valid and reliable measure of speaking and listening content standards.
[State] requests this waiver to allow for continued State and local receipt of Title I, Part A funding in good standing while [State] completes additional work to develop accurate, valid, reliable, and instructionally useful assessments related to speaking and listening. This waiver is requested for the 2015-2016 school year [(if requesting) through the 2016-2017 school year]. [State] assures that, if it is granted the requested waiver —
- It will continue to meet all other requirements of section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA, as amended by NCLB, and implementing regulations with respect to all State-determined academic content standards and assessments, including reporting student achievement and school performance, disaggregated by subgroups, to parents and the public.
- It will continue to work toward assessing speaking and listening consistent with the State’s academic content standards.
Prior to submitting this waiver request, [State] provided all LEAs in the State with notice and a reasonable opportunity to comment on this request. [State] provided such notice by [insert description of notice, e.g., sending a letter to each LEA on [date] or sending an email to each LEA on [date]] (see copy of notice attached). Copies of all comments that [State] received from LEAs in response to this notice are attached hereto. [State] also provided notice and a reasonable opportunity to comment regarding this waiver request to the public in the manner in which [State] customarily provides such notice and opportunity to comment to the public [e.g., by publishing a notice of the waiver request in the following newspapers; by posting information regarding the waiver request on its website] (see attached copy of public notice).
Please feel free to contact me by phone or email at [contact information] if you have any questions regarding this request. Thank you for your consideration.