GENERAL
Letters from the Education Secretary or Deputy Secretary
September 23, 2011

September 23, 2011

Dear Governors and Chief State School Officers:

The State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) program provided $48.6 billion to help stabilize State and local government budgets in order to minimize and avoid reductions in education and other essential public services. The program helped to ensure that local school districts and public colleges and universities had the resources to avert cuts and retain teachers and professors. The program also supported the modernization, renovation, and repair of school and college facilities. In addition, the SFSF program provided governors with significant resources to support public safety and other government services. As a condition of receiving this unprecedented level of support, the SFSF statute required that each State agree to implement education reforms in four key areas: (1) achieving equity in the distribution of effective teachers; (2) improving the collection and use of data; (3) standards and assessments; and (4) supporting struggling schools. The Department established specific indicators and descriptors by which States collect and publicly report data on State and local education policies and progress in advancing education reforms in the four reform areas. States are making tremendous progress in making this information transparent to better enable policymakers, educators, parents, and other stakeholders to identify strengths and weaknesses in education systems and to determine where concentrated reform efforts are warranted.

The Department initially established September 30, 2011, as the deadline by which States must comply fully with the requirements of the established SFSF indicators and descriptors. Today, the Department published in the Federal Register an Interim Final Requirement extending to January 31, 2012, the deadline for meeting the SFSF data collection and reporting requirements. (The Interim Final Requirement can be found at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-09-23/pdf/2011-24407.pdf.) In addition, we published a notice that proposes to extend further, under certain circumstances, the deadline for complying with the requirements of the indicators that States have identified as being particularly challenging—the development and implementation of a statewide longitudinal data system (Indicator (b)(1)) and the collection and public reporting of data on college enrollment and course completion (Indicators (c)(11) and (c)(12)). That notice also proposes to provide States with additional flexibility in providing information on college enrollment. (The Notice of proposed revisions can be found at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-09-23/pdf/2011-24563.pdf.)

Given the importance of having the capacity to report these data, the Department is providing this additional time and flexibility in response to concerns raised by some States about their ability to comply fully with the reporting requirements by the established September 30, 2011, deadline. We believe that this additional flexibility will allow States to build upon the substantial progress they have made in making publicly available data on their efforts in advancing education reform.

The Department will conduct webinars next week to provide further information on the two notices. We will send the State SFSF leads the dates of the webinars and information on how to register for a webinar. We look forward to continuing to assist you in these efforts. If you have any questions, please contact Ann Whalen of my staff at Ann.Whalen@ed.gov or 202-205-2474.

Sincerely,

/s/
Anthony W. Miller


 
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Last Modified: 09/23/2011