June 30, 2011
The Honorable Randy Dorn
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Washington Department of Public Instruction
Old Capitol Building
PO Box 47200
Olympia, Washington 98504
I am writing in response to Washington’s request to waive certain statutory and regulatory requirements of Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended. Specifically, Washington has requested a one-time waiver to permit it to administer two different high school end-of-course (EOC) assessments in mathematics in 2010-2011 and to use the results of those assessments in determining adequate yearly progress (AYP) for 2010-2011 through 2014-2015. Washington also requested, with respect to its high schools, a waiver of the statutory and regulatory provisions related to the timing of AYP determinations and notification of school choice options to parents of eligible students. After several discussions with your staff, and in consideration of the unique circumstances forming the basis of the request, I am pleased to grant the following waivers:
- Assessing all students on the same academic assessments. I am granting a one-time waiver of the requirements to assess all students on the same academic assessments used to measure the achievement of all children (ESEA section 1111(b)(3)(C)(i) and 34 C.F.R. § 200.2(b)(1)). More specifically, this waiver authorizes Washington to administer EOC assessments in Algebra I or Geometry in 2010-2011 and use the results from either of those assessments for AYP determinations. Washington may apply the results of the 2010-2011 high school EOC assessments to AYP determinations for 2010-2011 through 2014-2015 unless the ESEA is reauthorized in the interim and the provisions no longer apply.
- Identifying schools for improvement no later than the beginning of the school year. I am granting a one-time waiver of the requirement to identify schools for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring no later than the beginning of the school year following the failure to make AYP (ESEA section 1116(b)(1)(B) and 34 C.F.R. § 200.32(a)(2)). This waiver applies only to high schools.
- Providing parents of eligible students with school choice options 14 days prior to the start of the school year. I am granting a one-time waiver of the requirements for a local educational agency (LEA) to notify parents of their public school choice options at least 14 days before the start of the school year. This waiver applies only with respect to students in high schools that could be newly identified for improvement for the 2011–2012 school year, or that could possibly exit improvement, corrective action, or restructuring for the 2011–2012 school year but do not.
I am granting Washington waivers of these provisions due to the fact that it is transitioning to an EOC assessment in mathematics (Algebra I) for use for federal accountability purposes. The test will first be administered in late spring 2011 and used for AYP determinations based on the 2010-2011 assessment results. With respect to the first provisions I am waiving, some students in grades six through ten have already taking Algebra I and are currently taking Geometry. Thus, absent a waiver, these students would have to take the Algebra I EOC assessment one year removed from when they actually took the Algebra I course. In addition, these students would have to take both the Algebra I and Geometry EOCs. Therefore, for this particular group of students, I am granting this one-time waiver to allow Washington to use either the Algebra I or the Geometry EOC for federal accountability purposes. With respect to the provisions I am waiving related to the timing of AYP determinations and notification of school choice options, because Washington must set standards on its EOCs this summer, it will not be able to comply with the statutory and regulatory timeline requirements.
These waivers are granted on the condition that Washington will satisfy the conditions detailed in the enclosure to this letter.
I appreciate the work you are doing to improve your schools and provide a high-quality education for your students. If you have any questions, please contact Sharon Hall of my staff at 202-260-0998.
Deputy Assistant Secretary
for Policy and Strategic Initiatives
cc: Governor Chris Gregoire
CONDITIONS ON TITLE I, PART A WAIVERS
Waiver of requirements to provide timely adequate yearly progress determinations and timely notice to parents of public school choice options (ESEA sections 1116(b)(1)(B), 1116(b)(1)(E)(i), 34 C.F.R. §§ 200.32(a)(2), 200.37(b)(4)(iv))
This waiver is granted on the condition that Washington will:
- Ensure that each local educational agency (LEA) taking advantage of the waiver provides notice of public school choice to parents of students attending schools that cannot exit improvement, corrective action, or restructuring for the 2011–2012 school year at least 14 days prior to the start of the 2011–2012 school year;
- Encourage all LEAs within the state to provide notice of public school choice as early as possible and, ideally, at least 30 days before the start of the school year to parents of eligible students in schools not affected by the waiver;
- Ensure that its assessment schedule and test vendor contract for the 2011–2012 school year (and all subsequent school years) will permit LEAs within the state to provide notice of public school choice sufficiently in advance of, but no later than 14 days before, the start of the 2012–2013 school year (and all subsequent school years);
- Ensure that its LEAs that offer public school choice earlier to students in some schools than to students in other schools reserve a portion of the available transportation slots for students who receive the later notice (see Question D-7 in the Department’s Public School Choice Non-Regulatory Guidance, available at: http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/schoolchoiceguid.pdf and
Submit to the Department by September 30, 2012 a report that provides:
The total number of LEAs within the state that had schools that could have possibly entered or exited improvement, corrective action, or restructuring for the 2011-2012 school year; and
- The total number of LEAs within the state that took advantage of the waiver and provided some parents notice of public school choice less than 14 days before the start of the 2011–2012 school year.