February 12, 2014
The Honorable Lillian M. Lowery
State Superintendent of Schools
Maryland State Department of Education
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Dear Superintendent Lowery:
I am writing in response to the Maryland State Department of Education’s (MSDE) 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, MSDE has requested a one-year waiver to allow the State to field test in 2013–2014 in all its schools (except for seven schools that receive School Improvement Grant (SIG) funds) assessments in mathematics and reading/language arts aligned to college- and career-ready standards developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) in lieu of the State’s assessments in grades 3 through 8 and high school. MSDE has also requested flexibility in making accountability determinations.
I am pleased to grant, pursuant to my authority under section 9401 of the ESEA, a one-year waiver of the following statutory and regulatory requirements under Title I, Part A of the ESEA, as amended, 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. MSDE requested these waivers so that any individual student within Maryland will be permitted to take only one assessment in each content area in 2013–2014 — either the current State assessment or the field test of the new assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards.
- 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. MSDE requested this waiver to permit MSDE and its local educational agencies (LEAs) to refrain from producing or providing these reports for a student’s performance on a field test.
- ESEA sections 1111(h)(1)(C)(ii) and 1111(h)(2)(B), which require an SEA and an LEA, respectively, to report on performance against annual measurable objectives (AMOs). MSDE requested these waivers to permit MSDE and its LEAs to refrain from reporting performance against AMOs for any school that participates in the field test of the new assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards.
This waiver is granted to MSDE on the condition that it will implement the following assurances:
- The MSDE and its LEAs will ensure that all students in the tested grades who do not take a field test in a particular subject will take the current State assessment in that subject, as required by the ESEA.
- MSDE and its LEAs will report performance against AMOs for a subject that is not being field tested in a school that participates in the field test, for the seven SIG schools that will not participate in the field test, and for all LEAs (except single-school LEAs that participate in the field test of a tested subject) based on current State assessments administered in the 2013–2014 school year.
- MSDE and its LEAs will meet all reporting obligations with respect to reporting the actual achievement of students who take the current State assessments.
- MSDE has properly notified all LEAs and schools that will participate in the field test of that participation.
- MSDE will ensure that parents of students in each school participating in the field test have been notified of the school’s participation, including by ensuring that the notification to parents includes a discussion of the implications of the school’s participation in the field test and a notification of whether the parents’ child will participate in the field test.
- In the 2014–2015 school year, MSDE will administer the new reading/language arts and mathematics assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards, as well as its State science assessments, to all students in the grades required to be tested in accordance with 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 Maryland.
Deborah S. Delisle
cc: Jack R. Smith