Date: October 25, 2012
The Honorable Tom Kimbrell
Commissioner of Education
Arkansas Department of Education
Four State Capitol Mall
Little Rock, AR 72201
Dear Commissioner Kimbrell:
I am writing in response to Arkansas’s request to amend its approved ESEA flexibility request. As you know, on June 29, 2012, the Department of Education (Department) approved Arkansas’s flexibility request. On October 19, 2012, Arkansas submitted an amended request including two changes.
First, Arkansas’s approved ESEA flexibility request includes a “safe harbor” provision for meeting annual measurable objectives (AMOs) whereby any district, school, or subgroup automatically meets its AMOs for proficiency, growth, or graduation rate if 94 percent of its students are proficient, making adequate growth, or graduating, respectively. Through the amended request, Arkansas instead proposes to set the safe harbor threshold at the 90th percentile of the performance of the “all students” group for proficiency, growth, or graduation rate, based upon the 2011-2012 school year data. Accordingly, these thresholds would be set at 91 percent for reading achievement, 92 percent for math achievement, 93 percent for reading growth, 81 percent for math growth, and 94 percent for graduation rate.
Second, Arkansas’s approved request does not explicitly state that districts and schools can use either current year data or a three-year weighted average to determine whether the district, school, or subgroups met graduation rate AMOs. As part of the amended request, Arkansas proposes to allow districts and schools this option.
I am pleased to approve Arkansas’s amended request through the 20132014 school year. At that time, Arkansas, like other States with approved requests, may request an additional extension of these waivers through the 2014–2015 school year. Arkansas’s amended request will be posted on the Department’s website. A summary of Arkansas’s amendments is enclosed with this letter. Any further requests to amend Arkansas’s ESEA flexibility request must be submitted to the Department for review and approval.
Arkansas continues to have an affirmative responsibility to ensure that it and its districts are in compliance with Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and age in their implementation of ESEA flexibility as well as their implementation of all other Federal education programs. These laws include 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, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
I am confident that Arkansas will continue to implement the reforms it proposed under its approved ESEA flexibility request and advance its efforts to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. If you need any additional assistance to implement your ESEA flexibility request, please do not hesitate to contact Grace.Ross@ed.gov of my staff at .
Deborah S. Delisle
cc: John Hoy, Assistant Commissioner
Amendments to Arkansas’s Approved ESEA Flexibility Request
The following is a summary of amendments to Arkansas’s approved ESEA flexibility request. The Department approves the following amendments because Arkansas’s ESEA flexibility request, as amended, continues to be aligned with the principles of ESEA flexibility. Please refer to the Department’s website (www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for Arkansas’s complete ESEA flexibility request.
- Set Ambitions but Achievable Annual Measurable Objectives (Element 2.B)
Revision: ADE proposes to give districts, schools, and subgroups full credit for meeting AMOs when the performance, growth, or graduation rate meet or exceed the percentage at the 90th percentile rank of the State distribution for performance, growth, or graduation rate of the “all students” group, based upon 2011-2012 data.
- Develop and Implement a State-Based System of Differentiated Recognition, Accountability, and Support (Element 2.A)
Revision: ADE proposes to amend its ESEA Flexibility proposal to allow for the use of current year or a three year weighted average for meeting AMOs for graduation rate.