January 19, 2001
Commissioner of Education
Massachusetts Department of Education
350 Main Street
Malden, Massachusetts 02148-5023
Dear Commissioner Driscoll:
I am pleased to inform you that I am approving Massachusetts's Ed-Flex application, and delegate to Massachusetts the authority to waive selected Federal education requirements, subject to the conditions and restrictions in the Education Flexibility Partnership Act of 1999.
Massachusetts earned this added flexibility in the implementation of key federal elementary and secondary education programs by fully meeting the standards and assessment requirements in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and by meeting the other Ed-Flex eligibility requirements, including a flexibility plan and an accountability system that includes technical assistance and corrective actions in low-performing schools consistent with the requirements of Title I.
This Ed-Flex delegation is effective for five years from this date. It applies only to waivers sought by individual school districts and schools; the statute does not give States the authority to waive federal requirements that apply to State educational agencies. In addition, the Ed-Flex statute requires that States submit to the Department an annual report that includes performance data on each State's progress toward meeting the education objectives established in Massachusetts's Ed-Flex application. The Department plans to issue guidance to assist states in the development of these reports in the near future.
In regard to the final assessment system, Massachusetts is to be commended for the breadth of the content assessed. I appreciate your cooperation in making the changes in your assessment system that were necessary to meet the requirements of Sections 1111(b)(3) and 1116(a) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. On the basis of the evaluation conducted by external peer reviewers and U.S. Department of Education staff as well as the assurances that Massachusetts will disaggregate the data for the 2001 school profiles as required, and will closely monitor participation of limited English proficient (LEP) students in the assessment as you complete development of the English Proficiency Assessment, I am pleased to provide full approval of Massachusetts's final assessment system.
Enclosed with this letter are detailed comments from the peer review team that evaluated the Massachusetts assessment documents. We hope this information will be useful to the Massachusetts Department of Education, providing suggestions that support continued high quality in the assessment system.
Please be aware that approval of Massachusetts's assessment system for Title I is not a determination that the system complies with federal civil rights requirements, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VI 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 Act. Finally, please remember that if significant changes are made to Massachusetts's assessment and/or accountability system, you must submit information about those changes to the Department as required by section 1111(e)(2) of Title I.
I am confident that Massachusetts will be able to use the Ed-Flex authority to advance state and local education improvement efforts, to improve student achievement, and to maintain strong accountability for results. We look forward to working with you as you use Ed-Flex to improve school and student performance in your state.