April 16, 2014
The Honorable Diane DeBacker
Kansas State Department of Education
Landon State Office Building
900 SW Jackson Street, Suite 620
Topeka, Kansas 66612
Dear Superintendent DeBacker:
I am writing in response to the Kansas State Department of Education’s (KSDE) request to waive certain statutory and regulatory requirements of Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA). Specifically, KSDE has requested a one-year waiver to allow the State to field test in 2013–2014 alternate assessments based on alternate academic achievement standards in mathematics and reading/language arts aligned to college- and career-ready standards developed by the Dynamic Learning Maps assessment consortium (DLM) for all students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in lieu of the State’s alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards in grades 3 through 8 and high school.
I am pleased to grant, pursuant to my authority under section 9401 of the ESEA, a one-year waiver of the following statutory requirements under Title I, Part A of the ESEA and their associated regulatory provisions:
- ESEA sections 1111(b)(1)(B) and 1111(b)(3)(C)(i), which require the State educational agency (SEA) to apply the same academic achievement standards, and to use the same academic assessments, for all public school children in the State. KSDE requested these waivers so that all students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who are eligible to take an alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards will be permitted to take only the DLM field test in 2013–2014.
- ESEA section 1111(b)(3)(C)(xii), which requires the provision of individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports that include information regarding achievement on State assessments to parents, teachers, and principals as soon as is practically possible after an assessment is given. KSDE requested this waiver to permit KSDE and its local educational agencies (LEAs) to refrain from producing or providing these reports for a student’s performance on the DLM field test.
This waiver is granted to the KSDE on the condition that it will implement the following assurances:
- Kansas and its LEAs will ensure in 2013–2014 that all students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in the tested grades who are eligible to take an alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards take the DLM field test. All other students in the tested grades will take Kansas’ current State assessments.
- Kansas and its LEAs will meet all reporting obligations with respect to reporting the achievement of students who take the current State assessments.
- Kansas will properly notify all LEAs and schools with students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who will participate in the DLM field test of that participation.
- Kansas has ensured that parents of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities have been notified of their child’s participation, including ensuring that the notification includes a discussion of the implications of their child’s participation in the field test.
- In 2014–2015, Kansas will administer new alternate assessments based on alternate academic achievement standards aligned to college- and career-ready standards in reading/language arts and mathematics, as well as its State alternate assessments in science, to all students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in the grades required to be tested in accordance with the ESEA.
Finally, as stated in Kansas’ request for this waiver, Kansas is preparing to submit to the Department a request to extend the State’s current approved ESEA flexibility waiver. This request, due do the Department by April 12, 2014, must amend Kansas’ current approved ESEA flexibility waiver to reflect the changes resulting from this waiver.
Please be aware that this waiver of certain requirements of Kansas’ standards and assessment system under the ESEA is not a determination that the system complies with Federal civil rights requirements, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Please know that this waiver does not apply to statutory or regulatory requirements governing the general assessments that KSDE must administer in reading/language arts and mathematics in 2013–2014 under the ESEA. Moreover, this waiver also does not apply to statutory and regulatory requirements regarding science assessments under Title I, Part A of the ESEA.
I hope you find this flexibility helpful. I look forward to working with you and your staff as you implement this flexibility and as you continue working to improve education in Kansas.
Deborah S. Delisle
cc: Colleen Riley