May 10, 2005
States' demonstration of progress and effective implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) may merit new flexibility for States in their efforts to raise student achievement and make accountability more meaningful. States may have innovative approaches to education reform that they would like to incorporate into their Title I accountability plans or NCLB consolidated applications. The Department of Education will use each State's progress in meeting the four guiding principles of Raising Achievement: A New Path for No Child Left Behind when considering the approval of State plan amendments.
The pathway to receiving new flexibility begins with a State's submission of its amendment request. Any amendment requests that would affect accountability determinations for the 2005-2006 school year should be submitted to Raymond Simon, Acting Deputy Secretary, as soon as possible, but no later than Wednesday, June 1, 2005. A State's amendment request should include the following information:
A clear explanation of the desired flexibility and the specific elements of the State's accountability plan or consolidated application that would be affected by the change.
A justification of how the flexibility will result in more meaningful accountability and increased student achievement. As a State prepares its request, it should use the guiding principles embodied in Raising Achievement: A New Path for No Child Left Behind (www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/raising/new-path-long.html) to make certain that it meets the principles of (a) ensuring that students are learning and achieving proficiency by 2013-14; (b) making the school system more accountable; (c) ensuring that information is accessible and that parental options are available; and (d) improving the quality of teachers.
The date by which the State needs approval from the Department in order to make timely adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations.
Once an amendment request is received, Department staff will consider existing State data to determine how the State meets the guiding principles under its current system of accountability and how the allowance of additional flexibility will contribute to the State's reaching its goals and increasing student achievement. Department staff will contact the State and request additional data if they are needed to demonstrate satisfaction of the guiding principles or the impact of the requested flexibility. Each request will be given thorough consideration and treated expeditiously. If a request cannot be approved by the date provided by the State, however, the flexibility will not apply to the current school year, but will be considered for the following school year. States should keep in mind that more complex requests will likely require more time to decide.
The Department looks forward to its continued work with States as we identify innovations that help States achieve the goals of NCLB. Any questions regarding this process should be directed to your contact in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.