Implications of NCLB Flexibility Waiver

 

Word Version

November 1, 2013

TO THE ADMINISTRATOR ADDRESSED:

SUBJECT:      Implications of NCLB Flexibility Waiver

On September 30, 2013, the US Department of Education (USDE) granted the State of Texas a conditional waiver for specific provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). The waiver will be granted without conditions once USDE reviews and approves Texas's proposed guidelines for teacher and principal evaluation and support systems, which will be submitted in Spring 2014. For additional information, see Attachment 1.

This letter explains how the waiver releases Texas local educational agencies (LEAs) from meeting certain provisions of NCLB. The first two sections below describe general program changes and revised highly qualified (HQ) teacher data reporting requirements. The remainder of the letter describes the new basis for evaluating ongoing student performance and accountability, replacing the prior Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) provision.

General Program Changes

The waiver gives LEAs increased flexibility in determining how to expend NCLB funds:

·        LEAs identified for improvement status are no longer required to reserve 10% of their Title I, Part A allocation for professional development.

·        LEAs are no longer required to reserve an amount equal to 20% of their Title I, Part A funds for Supplemental Educational Services (SES) and school choice. However, any student currently taking advantage of the prior school choice provision must be allowed to complete the highest grade level at that campus, but the LEA is no longer required to provide transportation.

·        Limitations have been removed as to the amount that an LEA may transfer from a covered program into Title I, Part A under Funding Transferability. In addition, when calculating set-aside percentages within Title I, Part A, the LEA may now exclude the amount of transferred funds, whereas previously the set-asides were to be included in the required reservations. LEAs should be aware that, as was previously, funds transferred into Title I, Part A cannot be moved back out again for use in the original covered program.

Details on how the waiver affects amending the grant application are listed in the NCLB Waiver Errata, posted with 2013-2014 NCLB Consolidated Grant Application materials on the TEA Grant Opportunities page.

Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) Requirements

Section 1119 of NCLB requires that all teachers of core subject academic areas meet the specific competency and educational requirements defined for "highly qualified" (HQ) teachers. The NCLB waiver does not remove that requirement. LEAs must continue to ensure that applicable teachers meet the HQ definition and Title I paraprofessionals meet the Title I paraprofessional requirements.  In addition, LEAs are still required to take the appropriate actions when they do not. Campuses will continue reporting HQ status through eGrants by the deadlines posted on the Highly Qualified Teachers page of the TEA website.

Before implementation of the waiver, LEAs that failed to achieve 100% HQT status and did not meet AYP for multiple consecutive years were required to submit an HQ Continuous Improvement Plan and/or an HQ Focused Data Analysis to TEA. Beginning in the 2013-2014 school year, the waiver releases LEAs from submitting the plan to TEA.

New Method of Federal Accountability

A key change resulting from the NCLB waiver is the elimination of the AYP designation. For the 2012-2013 school improvement requirements, TEA released 2012 AYP results that identified LEAs and campuses as "Meets AYP" or "Missed AYP" depending on how their scores on statewide assessments compared to federal performance standards. A campus that missed AYP for two consecutive years was subject to a variety of Title I school improvement interventions, including corrective action.

With the granting of the NCLB waiver, AYP has been superseded to allow for a more flexible, state-specific approach to identifying schools in need of intervention. Starting in the 2013-2014 school year, Texas LEAs and campuses will aim to meet federally approved annual measurable objectives in the areas of performance, participation, and graduation, and limits on use of alternative assessments.

Priority and Focus Schools

Beginning in the 2013-2014 school year, TEA will identify "Priority" or "Focus" Title I schools, as follows:

·        "Priority" designates 5% of Title I campuses, consisting of School Improvement Grant-Texas Title I Priority Schools (SIG-TTIPS), high schools with graduation rates less than 60%, and lowest-performing schools based on statewide reading and math assessments.

·        "Focus" designates 10% of Title I campuses, based on the widest gaps between student performance and the federal targets of 75% (known as "system safeguards").

See Attachment 2 for a more detailed explanation of the identification of and supports and interventions for Title I schools that are identified as priority or focus schools and/or that missed a system safeguard.

For Further Information

The TEA Seeks Waiver of NCLB Provisions page of the TEA website includes links to TEA's waiver submissions as well as to the waiver approval letter from the US Secretary of Education. TEA will be posting further information on the implications of the waiver as it becomes available.

For further information on the topics covered in this letter, refer to the following TEA divisions:

·        General Title I program changes: Division of State and Federal Education Policy-ESEA Unit, (512) 463-9414 or nclb@tea.state.tx.us

·        Amendments to the 2013-2014 NCLB Consolidated Grant Application: Division of Grants Administration, (512) 463-8525 or grants@tea.state.tx.us

·        Highly qualified teacher requirements: Division of Educator Standards, (512) 936-9831 or espi@tea.state.tx.us

·        System Safeguards Results: Division of Performance Reporting, (512) 463-9704 or performance.reporting@tea.state.tx.us

·        Priority and Focus schools, improvement, and interventions: Division of School Improvement and Support, (512) 463-1427 or sis@tea.state.tx.us

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Lizzette C. González Reynolds
Chief Deputy Commissioner

LCGR/cg


Attachment 1: Teacher and Principal Evaluation and Support Systems

TEA's new teacher and principal evaluation systems will encourage more frequent, timely, formative feedback and will include multiple indicators of success, including measures of student learning.

Last year, based on feedback from the field and Senate Bill 1383, 82nd Texas Legislature, TEA began the process of updating the teacher evaluation system and developing a new principal evaluation system by engaging teachers, administrators, and subject-area experts in the development of these new state systems. The requirements of the waiver complement this work and include a concrete timeline.

The timeline includes the development of the teacher and principal evaluation and support systems in the 2013-2014 school year. During the 2014-2015 school year, the new evaluation systems will be piloted in 40 districts throughout the state, with specific districts yet to be determined. The new systems will be implemented statewide beginning in the 2015-2016 school year. The goal of both systems will be to foster open and collaborative campus cultures that focus on instructional growth, supportive and contextual feedback, and the development of individual and school-wide practices that more effectively improve student learning.

TEA will continue to support those districts that use locally adopted evaluation systems that meet the objectives of the new state evaluation system: providing timely and meaningful feedback to teachers, furthering instructional growth by aligning professional development to observation results, and weighing the effect of instructional practices through measures of student learning. The following table provides the timeline for development of the new teacher and principal evaluation and support systems.

Key Milestone or Activity: Development of Teacher and Principal Evaluation and Support Systems

Detailed Timeline

Responsible Parties

Meet with ESC Appraisal Advisory[1] group to gather input on strengths and weaknesses of current system-begin development of new training materials for teacher appraisal system

Meet quarterly beginning in May 2013

TEA

 

Initial meeting of Texas Teaching Standards Steering Committee - create rough draft of standards

August 2013

TEA

Texas Comprehensive Center

2nd meeting of Texas Teaching Standards Steering Committee - approve draft standards

September 2013

TEA

Texas Comprehensive Center

Review of draft standards by Center for Great Teachers and Leaders

October 2013

Texas Comprehensive Center

Release draft standards for public comment

December 2013

TEA

3rd meeting of Texas Teaching Standards Steering Committee to review revision of standards based on public comment

January 2014

TEA

Texas Comprehensive Center

 

Key Milestone or Activity: Development of Teacher and Principal Evaluation and Support Systems

Detailed Timeline

Responsible Parties

Finalize teaching standards

February 2014

TEA

4th meeting of Texas Teaching Standards Steering Committee to develop observation rubric that is aligned with new teaching standards

February 2014

TEA

Texas Comprehensive Center

Select 40 pilot districts for new observation tool

March 2014

TEA

ESCs

Teacher guidelines will be finalized and submitted to USDE

May 2014

TEA

Finalize draft observation rubric for pilot year

May 2014

TEA

Texas Comprehensive Center

TEA submits copies of the teacher standards, draft observation instruments and training materials to USDE

May 2014

TEA

Train pilot districts on new rubric and protocols

Summer 2014

TEA

ESCs

Pilot new rubrics with on-going monitoring, support, and professional development for pilot districts

2014-2015 School Year

TEA

ESCs

Update commissioner rules related to teacher appraisals based on results from the pilot

2014-2015 School Year

TEA

Begin state-wide rollout of training on new evaluation system

Summer 2015

TEA

ESCs/Contract with outside entity with proven results in successful statewide implementation

Begin rollout of new evaluation system statewide

2015-2016 School Year

TEA

ESCs/Contract with outside entity with proven results in successful statewide implementation

Provide ongoing monitoring, support, and professional development for pilot districts

Quarterly basis beginning fall 2015

TEA

ESCs

 


Attachment 2:  Identification, Supports and Interventions for Title I Schools Identified As Priority or Focus Schools and/or That Missed a System Safeguard

Identification

System safeguards meet federal accountability requirements by requiring all campuses and LEAs to meet the federally approved annual measurable objectives (AMOs) for each student group evaluated. Similar to the state accountability system safeguards, the federal system safeguards include four components: 1) performance rates, 2) participation rates, 3) graduation rates, and 4) limits on use of Alternative Assessments.

However, the performance rates, participation rates and graduation rates are calculated for seven student groups only: All Students, Three Racial/Ethnic groups: African American, Hispanic, and White; Economically Disadvantaged, students receiving Special Education services, and English language learners (ELLs). The other four racial/ethnic groups (American Indian, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Two or More Races) that were evaluated in the state accountability system safeguards are not evaluated in the federal accountability system safeguards.

Performance rates calculated for the federal accountability safeguard system are the disaggregated performance rates for Reading/English language arts and Mathematics subjects only. As described in the approved NCLB waiver, the performance rate targets are set at 75% for the 2012-13 school year for each student group evaluated. The targets for participation rates, graduation rates, and limits on use of STAAR Alternate and STAAR Modified are the same targets used for the 2013 state accountability system safeguards which are aligned to federal requirements.  Note that the federal accountability system safeguards apply the same AMO targets to all districts and campuses, including charter districts and alternative education campuses.

The agency will generate a list of priority and focus schools based on statewide reading and mathematics assessments, and graduation rates.  Priority schools will include School Improvement Grant-Texas Title I Priority Schools (SIG-TTIPS), Title I schools with graduation rates less than 60%, and the lowest-performing Title I schools based on system safeguard data.  Ten percent of Title I schools, not otherwise identified as priority schools, will be considered focus schools.  Focus schools will include campuses with the widest gaps in student performance between student groups and the federal safeguard targets of 75%.

Interventions for Title I Priority and Focus Schools

Priority and Focus schools are required to align the Texas Accountability and Intervention System (TAIS) improvement process around the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) turnaround principles and critical success factors (CSFs).   The LEA is responsible for assisting identified campuses in all aspects of the school improvement process, which include data analysis, needs assessment, and developing, implementing, and monitoring a plan for improvement. 

During the school year 2013-14, the following interventions will be required for identified schools:

·        SIG-TTIPS priority schools will continue to implement current TTIPS requirements and engage in the TAIS improvement process of data analysis, needs assessment, improvement planning, and implementation and monitoring of activities at the LEA and campus level.  These campuses must also ensure they continue to address the ESEA turnaround principles in all plans and activities required through the TTIPS grant.

·        Non-SIG-TTIPS priority schools will, through engaging in the TAIS improvement process referenced above, evaluate current campus staff and create a plan that addresses the ESEA turnaround principles, which will be submitted at the end of the 2013-14 school year.  This plan, based on the turnaround principles, will be fully implemented by the campus in the 2014-15 school year.

·        Focus schools will review ESEA turnaround principles and must identify and implement no less than one instructional intervention specifically targeted to meet the deficiencies of the campus and assist in closing existing achievement gaps.  Reasons for identification and chosen instructional intervention(s) must be included in the campus' 2013-14 campus improvement plan.

Priority and focus schools already identified as Improvement Required (IR) under the state accountability system will continue the requirements outlined in an August 15, 2013, To the Administrator Addressed.  Further details will be provided around embedding the interventions described above into current improvement work.

Additional information on the identification of priority and focus schools, plan submission processes, timelines, and available resources and support will be communicated soon by staff at the Texas Education Agency, Texas Center for District and School Support (TCDSS), and regional ESCs.

Interventions for Title I Schools that Missed One or More System Safeguards

Title I schools that are not identified as priority or focus and are not meeting one or more federal accountability system safeguards should address missed safeguard measures as they work through the improvement process.

Although there are no reporting requirements to TEA, the LEA and campus should engage in the TAIS improvement process to provide support and resources to address these areas. LEAs are encouraged to provide support internally, or to engage with local ESCs or other entities, as needed.



[1] TEA currently works with one lead education service center (ESC) and an existing ESC Professional Development Appraisal System (PDAS) Advisory Group to standardize training, introduce and refine training materials, and refine teacher evaluation in districts that use PDAS.