The Obama Administration announced today that Indiana and Kansas have received a one-year extension for flexibility from certain provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
"America's schools and classrooms are undergoing some of the largest changes in decadeschanges that will help prepare our students with the critical thinking and problem-solving skills that tomorrow's economy will require," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. "This extension will allow the states to continue the critical work of implementing the bold reforms they developed to improve achievement for all students."
Also, the Administration announced today that it is denying Oklahoma's request for a one-year extension for flexibility. Since its initial approval for ESEA flexibility, Oklahoma can no longer demonstrate that it has college- and career-ready standards in place, a key principle of ESEA flexibility. The Department is providing Oklahoma with additional transition time to implement supplemental educational services and public school choice, which are required under NCLB and must happen no later than the start of the 2015-2016 school year.
ESEA has been due for Congressional reauthorization since 2007. In the absence of reauthorization, President Obama announced in September 2011 that the administration would grant waivers from parts of the law to qualified states, in exchange for state-developed plans designed to improve educational outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, increase equity and improve the quality of instruction. The one-year extension of ESEA flexibility allows the states to continue moving forward on the ambitious work they began with their initial flexibility requests.
Since fall 2011, Indiana and Kansas have implemented education reforms that go far beyond the Elementary and Secondary Education Act's rigid, top-down requirements. Examples of that work include:
The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) has developed and posted to its website a series of tutorial videos to build the capacity of all teachers to successfully write and implement Student Learning Objectives (SLOs). These Objectives are one of three measures of student growth under IDOE's new teacher evaluation system, which also includes individual student growth and school-wide growth based on annual standardized assessment results.
IDOE has also created the innovative Division of Outreach for School Improvement. This division works proactively with schools at the grassroots level to support educators, while monitoring, developing and strengthening school improvement to ensure that school improvement efforts in Indiana are intentionally aligned to the federal turnaround principles.
Through the use of the Kansas Learning Network (KLN), the Technical Assistance Support Network (TASN), and the Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) Project, Kansas has been able to align systems and processes already in place within its special education and Title I offices to support implementation of the principles of ESEA flexibility.
The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) makes differentiated and targeted technical assistance available to all local districts and schools through its TASN, which links individual needs directly to state-vetted service providers through a web-based request for assistance system.
KSDE is developing an accreditation process for all local districts that moves beyond looking solely at performance on assessments to examine a district's holistic approach to serving the entire student and aligns with the state's work in each of the three principles.
Forty-one states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico currently have ESEA flexibility, 35 of which expire this summer. Of those, 34 submitted an extension request. Twenty-two states: Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia and Wisconsin have been granted extensions since July 3.