February 12, 2014
The Honorable Dale A. R. Erquiaga
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Nevada Department of Education
700 E. Fifth Street
Carson City, NV 89701-5096
Dear Superintendent Erquiaga:
I am writing in response to the Nevada Department of Education’s (NDE) request on behalf selected schools 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, NDE has requested on behalf of the selected schools a one-year waiver to allow the State to field test in 2013–2014 assessments in mathematics and reading/language arts aligned to college- and career-ready standards developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) in lieu of the State’s assessments 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 and regulatory 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 a 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. NDE requested these waivers so that any individual student within Nevada 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. NDE requested this waiver to permit NDE and its local educational agencies (LEAs) to refrain from producing or providing these reports for a student’s performance on a field test.
This waiver is granted to the NDE on the condition that it will implement the following assurances:
- The NDE 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.
- The NDE and its LEAs will meet all reporting obligations with respect to reporting the actual achievement of students who take the current State assessments.
- The NDE has properly notified all LEAs and schools that will participate in the field test of that participation.
- The NDE has ensured 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 whether the parents’ child will participate in the field test.
- In the 2014–2015 school year, the NDE 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.
Please be aware that this waiver of Nevada’s 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. 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 Nevada.
Deborah S. Delisle
cc: Cindy Sharp, Director