November 8, 2012
Jorea M. Marple, State Superintendent of Education
West Virginia Department of Education
1900 Kanawha Boulevard East
Charleston, West Virginia 25305
Dear Superintendent Marple:
Thank you for submitting West Virginia’s request for ESEA flexibility. We appreciate the hard work required to transition to college- and career-ready standards and assessments; develop a system of differentiated recognition, accountability, and support; and evaluate and support teacher and leader effectiveness. The U.S. Department of Education (Department) is encouraged that West Virginia and many other States are designing rigorous plans to increase the quality of instruction and improve student academic achievement.
West Virginia’s request was reviewed by a panel of six peer reviewers during the week of October 1, 2012. During the review, the peers considered each component of West Virginia’s request and provided comments in the form of Peer Panel Notes that the Secretary will use to inform any revisions to your request that may be needed to meet the principles of ESEA flexibility. The Peer Panel Notes, a copy of which is enclosed with this letter, also provide feedback on the strengths of West Virginia’s request and areas that would benefit from further development. The Department’s ESEA flexibility team has also carefully reviewed West Virginia’s request, taking into account the Peer Panel Notes, to determine consistency with the ESEA flexibility principles.
The peers noted, and the Department’s ESEA flexibility team agrees, that West Virginia’s request was particularly strong regarding meaningful consultation of teachers and diverse stakeholders, transition to and implementation of college- and career-ready standards and assessments, and a concrete plan for implementing teacher and principal evaluation and support systems.
At the same time, based on the peer reviewers’ comments and our review of the materials West Virginia has provided to date, we have identified certain components of your request that need further clarification, additional development, or revision. In particular, concerns were identified with respect to the following:
- Weighting of indicators in the accountability index may not reflect appropriate expectations for all students to meet college- and career-ready standards; and
- Annual measurable objectives (AMOs) are not solely proficiency based and lack rigor.
The enclosed list provides details regarding these concerns, as well as other key issues raised in the review of West Virginia’s request, that must be addressed before the Secretary can approve your request for ESEA flexibility. We encourage West Virginia to consider all of the peers’ comments and technical assistance suggestions in making revisions to its request, but we encourage you to focus primarily on addressing the concerns identified on the enclosed list.
Although the Peer Panel Notes for West Virginia provide information specific to your request, West Virginia may also benefit from comments and technical assistance suggestions made by other peer panels regarding issues common to multiple State educational agencies’ (SEA) requests. For this reason, Department staff will reach out to West Virginia to provide relevant technical assistance suggestions and other considerations that may be useful as you revise and refine your request.
We remain committed to working with West Virginia to meet the principles of ESEA flexibility and improve outcomes for all students. We stand ready to work with West Virginia as quickly as possible. In order to ensure prompt consideration of revisions or additional materials, we are asking SEAs to submit those materials by November 30, 2012.
Department staff will be in touch to set up a call as early as this week to discuss the timeline and process for providing revisions or materials. You and your team deserve great credit for your efforts thus far, and I am confident that the Department’s ESEA flexibility team will work with your staff to address outstanding concerns. If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact Grace Ross at 202-260-0967. Thank you for your continued commitment to all of West Virginia’s children.
Deborah S. Delisle
cc: Robert E. Hull, Associate Superintendent