May 17, 2011
Dr. Naccaman Williams
Chairman, Arkansas State Board of Education
Arkansas Department of Education
4 Capitol Mall
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201-1019
Dear Dr. Williams:
I am writing in response to the Arkansas State Board of Education's request to waive certain statutory and regulatory requirements of Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended. In particular, the Arkansas State Board of Education requested a waiver of statutory and regulatory provisions related to accountability to allow Arkansas' annual yearly progress (AYP) targets to be held at the 2011-2012 levels until the Arkansas Common Core Standards and the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness tor College and Careers' (PARCC) assessment can be fully implemented, which is anticipated by the 2014-2015 school year.
After reviewing and giving careful consideration to the Arkansas State Board of Education's request, I am declining to exercise my waiver authority. I understand the technical difficulties raised during the transition to a new assessment system, as well as the challenges involved with aligning curriculum and instruction to the new Common Core State Standards; however, upon careful consideration, I believe the reauthorization of the ESEA is the best place to address these important transition issues and we are hopeful that this will soon occur.
Thank you for working to improve student performance. If you should have questions, please contact of my staff at 202-260-0998 or Sharon.Hall@ed.gov.
Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Mike Beebe