November 25, 2013
The Honorable Diane M. DeBacker
Commissioner of Education
Kansas State Department of Education
120 South East 10th Avenue
Topeka, KS 66612
Dear Commissioner DeBacker:
This letter serves as a response to your August 21, 2013, letter requesting reconsideration of the decision to place the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) on high-risk status pursuant to the authority in 34 C.F.R. § 80.12. Your letter was written in response to my August 14, 2013, letter granting KSDE’s request to extend approval of its Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA) flexibility request through the end of the 2013–2014 school year, subject to the condition that Kansas complete certain actions, and placing KSDE on high-risk status.
As you know, the decision to place KSDE on high-risk status was based on the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department) determination that KSDE has not yet met the condition placed on the initial approval of its ESEA flexibility request. That condition required KSDE to adopt a method for including student growth as a significant factor in its teacher and principal evaluation and support systems, and that it submit final guidelines for those systems that meet the requirements of ESEA flexibility. In your request for reconsideration, you discuss the work that your staff has already completed and the work it will continue to do in order to satisfy this condition prior to the end of the 2013–2014 school year. We appreciate the work that has been done and will continue to be done, and I acknowledge that KSDE has made progress in this area. However, your request for reconsideration does not provide documentation that KSDE has met the condition that was placed on the initial approval of its ESEA flexibility request. Having carefully reviewed your request and considered the discussion set forth therein, the Department stands by its determination to place KSDE on high-risk status.
To account for the time that has passed while the Department reviewed your request for reconsideration, I am hereby extending the deadline for KSDE to submit a high-quality plan that addresses the items that were set forth in my August 14, 2013, letter, which was to have been submitted 30 days after the date of that letter. That high-quality plan is now due no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. All other deadlines set forth in my August 14, 2013, letter remain unchanged.
My staff and I look forward to reviewing the information that you will provide us in accordance with the terms of my August 14, 2013, letter (and the extension set forth above), which I hope will lead to removal of the condition on KSDE’s ESEA flexibility request and its high-risk status.
Deborah S. Delisle