USOE Proposes to Amend ESEA Flexibility Waiver

Utah State Office of Education Proposes to Amend ESEA Flexibility Waiver

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is the federal education law that describes federal requirements for the nation’s public schools.  ESEA was first enacted in 1965.  The latest ESEA revision is known as the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001. Key programs include Title I, the flagship teaching and learning program that reaches students in high-poverty schools. Other ESEA programs provide funds to improve teacher training, student literacy, school technology, and school safety. Each state operated under their own individual NCLB approved plan that required schools and districts to make adequate yearly progress toward the academic goal of 100 percent proficiency in English Language Arts and Math by 2014. A school that failed to make AYP for two consecutive years was labeled “in need of improvement.” Those that received federal Title I funds — funds allocated to schools that serve a requisite number of low-income students — faced sanctions that increased over time.

While it was highly anticipated that this law would be reauthorized for several years, this has not occurred. Since 2011 states have been operating under individual flexibility waivers granted to individual states from certain federal requirements, while still meeting accountability, regulatory, administrative, and reporting standards.  Utah applied for and was granted a waiver in 2012 and has operated under an extension of that waiver since 2013.  For a full listing of the waivers granted to Utah please see Utah’s approved flexibility request at http://schools.utah.gov/data/Educational-Data/Accountability-School-Performance/Utah-ESEA-Flexibility-Request.aspx

In August of 2014 the Utah State Board of Education approved the request that was recently granted for a one year extension of the flexibility waiver.

The Utah State Office of Education (USOE) proposes to request two amendments to the State’s approved ESEA flexibility waiver request. The proposed amendments are open for public comment at the following address:  publiccomment@schools.utah.gov

The relevant information, is described below:

Element 2A. Develop and Implement a State-based System of Differentiated Recognition, Accountability and Support. Due to the recent implementation of a new assessment system, SAGE (Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence), Utah recognizes that calculating growth would require a comparison of CRT (previous assessment) results with SAGE (new assessment system).  This comparison is not the best way to measure growth.  Beginning with the 2014/15 school year, there will be two years of SAGE data and a growth calculation will be more appropriate.  For the 2013/14 school year,Utah will calculate growth and provide this information to schools and districts, but proposes to not use this growth measurementfor high stakes accountability for schools or districts for the 2013/14 school year.  Utah will require schools and districts to implement any interventions they were required to implement during the 2013-14 school year (based on 2012-13 results) in the 2014-15 school year.  All data used for these accountability purposes will use the 2012-13 data.

Element 2B. Set Ambitious but Achievable Annual Measurable Objectives.  Annual Measureable Objectives (AMOs) targets are set based on percent proficient in each of language arts and mathematics for each school and subgroup in annual equal increments toward a goal of reducing by half the percentage of students in the all-students group and in each subgroup who are not proficient within six years.  The trajectory started with the 2011-12 academic year.

Utah proposes to establish a new baseline in the 2013-14 school year using the new SAGE assessment. Accordingly, targets would be set by reducing in half the percentage of students in the “all students” group and in each subgroupwho are not proficient within six years (2014-2020).  For the current year only, with a new baseline, this method does not work. Utah will report at the school-level compared to the district average (for example, a subgroup met the target if it met or exceeded the district average) and at the LEA-level against the State average.  This reporting will occur for one year only, the 2013-14 school year first administration of SAGE.  Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, Utah will move forward with the reduce-the-gap-in-one-half targets, at the subgroup level using the first year results (2013-14) as the baseline. The rationale to request this amendment to the ESEA waiver is thatUtah cannot produce defensible gap reduction data from Utah’s CRT’s to the new Utah SAGE assessment for the baseline year, and new targets must be set toward a six year trajectory.

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