September 25, 2003
Honorable Nancy S. Grasmick
State Superintendent of Schools
Maryland State Department of Education
200 West Baltimore Street
Ba1timore, MD 21201
Dear Superintendent Grasmick:
The Department has reviewed your plan to invoke your authority as an Education Flexibility Partnership Act (Ed-Flex) State to issue, on a case-by-case basis, one-time, one-year waivers of the teacher quality requirements under section 1119(a)(1) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended, by the No Child Left Behind Act (P.L. 107-110).
Under Ed-F1ex, a State may consider requests from its LEAs to waive statutory and regulatory requirements that impede implementation of State and local improvement plans or that unnecessarily burden program administration, while maintaining the intent and purposes of affected programs. (As you know, Ed-flex States must meet the accountability requirements of Title I to maintain their Ed-flex authority.) States should base, at a minimum, their determination to grant a waiver of the teacher quality requirements of Title I on the following conditions:
The SEA grants the waivers on the basis of individual applications submitted by the LEAs under section 4 of the Ed-Flex statute (P.L. 106-25).
The SEA determines that the requesting LEA is taking the steps necessary to meet the requirements of section 1119 of Title I by the end of the period for which the waiver is granted.
The State's and LEA's goals for raising the achievement of all students will not be compromised.
The waivers will not compromise the State's plan to ensure that, not later than the end of the 2005-2006 school year, all teachers teaching in core academic subjects will be highly qualified.
The Ed-Flex waiver plan you presented in your letter dated July 31, 2003, meets these conditions and therefore is permissible. Specifically, you indicate that local school superintendents must submit a written request that:
Explains why their efforts to recruit highly qualified teachers in Title I schools are not sufficient.
Lists the Title I schools for which the one-time waiver will apply.
Does not include a waiver for any Title I school that has been identified for school improvement or corrective action.
Ensures that the LEA, if a waiver is granted, will document their progress in ensuring that by the beginning of the 2004-2005 school year all newly hired teachers in all Title I schools are highly qualified.
We appreciate your commitment to provide all students with highly qualified teachers and your belief that invoking your ED-Flex authority as proposed will enable you to maintain high standards for teacher qualifications while ensuring that all teachers in the Title I schools are highly qualified.
I look forward to working with you to fully implement the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
Ronald J. Tomalis
Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education