The Department of Education has granted Washington state a waiver from the requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
In the press release regarding the announcement from the Education Department, State Superintendent Randy Dorn said , “This decision is welcome news that gives our state the opportunity to implement bold reforms around standards and accountability. It allows state and local educators to decide how to best meet the individual needs of students they serve.”
According to OPSI, the waiver request rested on the three new policy shifts:
- Washington adopting Common Core Standards.
- Washington revising the School Accountability System and Index to better evaluate school and school district performance over time.
- Washington adopting a new Teacher/Principal Evaluation system.
The waiver agreement has several components. Including:
- The state will focus on the achievement gap of African American, Latino, Asian and Pacific Islander, Low Income, and Special Education students by taking actions to reduce the difference in scores by 2018. The ESEA required that all students pass the reading and math assessments by 2014.
- OSPI must identify:
- Priority schools – Schools that are among the bottom 5 percent for three years based on statewide assessment. If the priority school is a high school, the graduation rate is less than 60 percent.
- Focus schools – Schools that are among the bottom 10 percent for three years based on math and reading assessment and have a large within school achievement gap between high performing students and low performing students. If the focus school is a high school, the graduation rate is less than 60 percent.
- Reward schools- Schools that are among the top 10 percent based on math and reading assessment over three years and no significant within school achievement gap. If the reward school is a high school, it must be among the highest in graduation rates.
According to OSPI, the goal of identifying “Priority” and “Focus” schools is “to turn around performance, close persistent opportunity gaps, and substantially improve student learning and outcomes.”
Governor Gregoire is also happy with the announcement, stating, “This waiver provides our school districts with the necessary flexibility to improve student learning based on the students’ and their community’s needs. And it recognizes the collaborative efforts the state undertook to reform teacher and principal evaluations, culminating in the passage of ESSB 5895 this session. Congratulations to all those who worked tirelessly to secure this waiver.”
Read the full press release here.