TEA News Releases Online July 19, 2013
TEA seeks federal clarification on HB 866 waiver request
AUSTIN - Commissioner of Education Michael Williams has sought clarification from the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) regarding USDE's authority to waive specific provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, commonly known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
Under House Bill 866 (passed by the 83rd Texas Legislature and signed by the governor), a USDE waiver must be secured to reduce or eliminate assessment requirements for certain students at the elementary and middle school grade levels.
Should the federal government determine that relevant provisions of federal law may be waived and ultimately grant a waiver request, potential changes would include assessments for math in grades 3, 5 and 8; and reading in grades 3, 5 and 8. Current federal law requires testing for math and reading for all students in grades 3 through 8.
In a July 17th letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Commissioner Williams seeks clarification from USDE that the specific federal provisions related to these student tests can and may be waived.
"The legislative authors of House Bill 866 drafted the bill with the intent to reduce the testing burden and costs for students, teachers, parents, and schools by reducing the amount of mandatory testing for students in grades 3-8 who are high performing," said Commissioner Williams in his letter to Secretary Duncan. "During the legislative session, the authors expressed their belief that this legislation would allow high-performing students to focus their time and energy on learning new material and not focusing every year on a test where there is a high likelihood that they would demonstrate success."
Because there is no set timetable for USDE to reach a decision on waiver requests submitted by states, the provisions of HB 866 will not impact the upcoming 2013-14 school year. In addition, HB 866 does not impact requirements for writing, social studies or science assessments in grades 3 through 8.
Under the legislation, the provisions of HB 866 would take effect no later than Sept. 1, 2015 (once the state has obtained a federal waiver or received written notification that a waiver is not required).
The waiver request for HB 866 would be separate from a previous waiver application submitted by TEA. That request is currently being considered at the federal level.