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No Child Left Behind: A Desktop Reference
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State Flexibility Authority ("State-Flex")(VI-A-3-A)

Purpose

This program gives up to seven states increased flexibility to demonstrate how certain federal funds may be used flexibly to raise student academic achievement and close the achievement gaps between groups of students. This program allows states--and between 4 to 10 districts within those states--to use certain federal funds in ways that they deem to be most productive. This program was created because many educational innovations have been developed through state and local initiatives rather than through targeted federal programs, and states and communities are often in the best position to make decisions about how to target educational resources.

WHAT'S NEW--The No Child Left Behind Act

Focuses on What Works

  • Requires that achievement data be used to gauge success. State-Flex allows states to make the best use of federal funds in their efforts to raise academic achievement and close the achievement gap. Each state must explain why and how the proposed uses of funds will increase the state's capacity to make adequate yearly progress and meet the state's educational goals.

Reduces Bureaucracy and Increases Flexibility

  • Consolidates funds across several programs. State-Flex permits state education agencies (SEAs) to combine state-level funds across programs and specify how all districts in the state must use certain Innovative Programs State Grants (Title V-A) if doing so will help the state to raise student achievement and eliminate achievement gaps. States also must enter into between four and 10 performance agreements with school districts to accomplish these purposes in those districts. At least half of these districts must be high-poverty districts.

Increases Accountability for Student Performance

  • Withdraws flexibility authority if achievement objectives are not met. States that fail to make adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years will lose flexibility authority. In addition, states must disseminate an annual report to the public in which they identify how consolidated funds were used to improve student achievement over the past year.

Empowers Parents

  • Informs parents of outcomes associated with the flexible use of funds. All SEAs with State- Flex authority are required to widely disseminate to parents and the public an annual report that describes how the state and the districts with which the state has performance agreements use the consolidated funds to make adequate yearly progress and advance the education priorities of the state and districts.

How It Works

This program allows the U.S. Department of Education to grant flexibility authority to up to seven eligible SEAs for a five-year period. The secretary of education will grant State-Flex authority to eligible SEAs on a competitive basis using a peer-review process. Once granted State-Flex authority, a state does not receive any additional federal funds, but the SEA must undertake the following two activities and can choose to undertake the third activity:

Activity #1

Consolidate funds for state-level activities and state administration under any of these six Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) authorities, and use the funds for any authorized ESEA purpose in order to assist the SEA in making adequate yearly progress and in narrowing achievement gaps:

  1. Improving the Academic Achievement of Disadvantaged Children: State Administration (Section 1004). This part of Title I authorizes states to use a portion of funds for state-level administration of the program. This program provides extra resources to help improve instruction in high-poverty schools and ensure that poor and minority children have the same opportunity as other children to meet challenging state academic standards.
  2. Reading First: Formula Grants to State Education Agencies, State Uses of Funds (Paragraphs (4) and (5) of Section 1202(d)). These parts of the legislation authorize SEAs to use a portion of Reading First funds for technical assistance to LEAs and schools and for planning, administration and reporting purposes. Reading First helps states, school districts, and schools to ensure that every child can read at grade level or above by the end of third grade through the implementation of instructional programs and materials, assessments, and professional development based on scientifically based reading research.
  3. State Grants for Improving Teacher Quality ("Teacher and Principal Training and Recruitment"): State Uses of Funds (Section 2113(a)(3)). This section authorizes SEAs to reserve a portion of the program funds for state-level activities and state-level administration of the program. This program aims to improve teacher and principal quality through activities such as professional development, merit pay, recruitment initiatives and a variety of other activities.
  4. Enhancing Education through Technology: State and Local Technology Grants, Use of Allotment by State (Section 2412(a)(1)). This section authorizes states to use up to 5 percent of funds for state-level activities. The purpose of this program is to provide high-quality professional development in technology, increase access to the Internet, integrate technology into curricula, and use technology for parental involvement and management of data for informed decision-making.
  5. Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Governor's funds, with agreement of governor: Subsection (a) of Section 4112. This subsection authorizes the state to reserve a portion of funds for the governor to award competitive grants and contracts to school districts, community-based organizations, and other public and private organizations for a variety of safety and drug-prevention programs and activities.
  6. 21st Century Community Learning Centers: Allotments to States (paragraphs (2) and (3) of Section 4202(c)). These paragraphs authorize the state to use program funds for administration of the program and state-level activities. The overall purpose of this program is to provide opportunities for communities to establish or expand activities in community learning centers.
  7. Innovative Programs: Allocation to Local Education Agencies (Section 5112(b)). This section authorizes a small portion of funds to be used for state administration of the program. This program provides funds for a wide variety of state and local reform efforts such as school renovations, technology, school choice and other initiatives.

Activity #2

Enter into performance agreements with four to 10 districts (at least half of which are "high-poverty") in the state, permitting those districts to consolidate federal funds and use them for any ESEA purpose consistent with the state's State-Flex plan. The purpose of the performance agreements is to assist the districts in making adequate yearly progress and in narrowing achievement gaps. (Under State-Flex, "high-poverty" districts are those where at least 20 percent of children are from families below the poverty line.) Districts must still meet the general purposes of the programs included in the consolidation. The four to 10 districts that enter into performance agreements with their SEA in a State-Flex state may consolidate and use funds awarded to them on a formula basis under any of the following programs for any ESEA Purpose:

  1. Improving Teacher Quality State Grants ("Teacher and Principal Training and Recruiting"): Subgrants to Local Education Agencies (Subpart 2 of Part A of Title II). This subpart authorizes the allocation of subgrants to school districts for a variety of teacher quality interventions including professional development, recruitment initiatives, merit pay and many other activities.
  2. Enhancing Education through Technology (Subpart 1 of Part D of Title II). This program awards formula grants to states. States then distribute funds to high-need districts or consortia for high-quality professional development, increased access to the Internet, integration of technology into curricula, and the use of technology for promoting parental involvement and managing data for informed decision making.
  3. Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities (Subpart 1 of Part A of Title IV). This program supports interventions that aim to: prevent violence in and around schools, prevent the use of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco by young people, and foster a safe and drug-free learning environment that supports academic achievement.
  4. Innovative Programs: State and Local Programs (Subpart 1 of Part A of Title V). This program provides funds for a wide variety of state and local reform efforts such as school renovations, technology, school choice, and other initiatives.

Activity #3

Specify how any district in the state may use Innovative Program funds under Part A of Title V.

Key Requirements

In order to be considered for State-Flex, an SEA must submit an application that, among other things:

  • Includes a five-year plan describing how the SEA will consolidate and use funds from programs included in the scope of the grant authority in order to make adequate yearly progress and advance the educational priorities of the state and the districts with which the SEA enters into performance agreements;
  • Includes the proposed performance agreements that the SEA will enter into with between four and 10 districts (at least half of which must be high-poverty districts). Each proposed district performance agreement will contain plans for the districts to consolidate and use federal funds for activities that are aligned with the SEA's plan in order to assist the districts in making adequate yearly progress, improving student achievement, narrowing achievement gaps, and meeting the general purposes of the programs included;
  • Ensures that the SEA, and the districts with which it enters into performance agreements, will meet the requirements of all applicable civil rights laws,will provide for the equitable participation of students and staff in private schools, and will use funds consolidated under this authority only to supplement and not to supplant any nonfederal sources of funds; and
  • Demonstrates that the SEA has consulted with and involved parents, teachers, district representatives, and other educators in the development of the terms of the grant authority.

How It Achieves Quality

The secretary of education will grant State-Flex authority to eligible SEAs on a competitive basis using a peer-review process. Peer reviewers will use selection criteria that measure the quality of proposed State-Flex plans. In their applications, SEAs must demonstrate that their proposed State-Flex plans have substantial promise of assisting the state in making adequate yearly progress. States that fail to make adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years will lose flexibility authority.

How Performance Is Measured

All states participating in State-Flex are required to prepare an annual report that describes how the state and the districts with which the state has performance agreements use the consolidated funds to make adequate yearly progress and advance the education priorities of the state and districts. As noted above, if a State-Flex state does not make adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years, the secretary will terminate the agreement.

Key Activities For The State Education Agencies

In order to be considered for State-Flex, a state education agency must:

  • Submit a comprehensive five-year State-Flex proposal to the secretary.
  • Consult with parents, district representatives and other educators in developing the terms of the grant authority.
  • Include in its proposal at least four and as many as 10 proposed performance agreements with districts, at least half of which must be high-poverty districts.
  • Disseminate a report that describes the use of consolidated funds and how such consolidation contributes to adequate yearly progress and meets the educational needs of the state and participating districts each year.

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Last Modified: 09/14/2007