U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has approved Delaware’s plan for school accountability and support, granting the state flexibility from certain requirements of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
Under Delaware’s plan, schools now will work toward ambitious but realistic goals with the help of differentiated support from the state and their districts. Schools no longer will be subject to some requirements of ESEA -- formerly referred to as the No Child Left Behind Act -- such as mandated school improvement, corrective action or restructuring for not meeting 100 percent student proficiency on standardized tests by 2013-14. Schools and districts also gain the ability to refocus some funding, such as money formerly required for choice and supplemental education services, for the specific supports that best meet their students’ needs. It will take effect this school year (2011-12).
Outgoing Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Lillian M. Lowery and Secretary Designate Mark Murphy both lauded the decision, saying Delaware’s plan will allow the state, districts and schools to differentiate interventions and support to better meet student needs.
Delaware’s plan reflects the ideas and feedback collected from stakeholders and members of the public who shared comment following a series of town hall meetings across the state in January.
“The state now will be able to implement a plan designed by Delawareans to meet the needs of Delaware students,” Lowery said. “This plan gives us the flexibility to allow data – not just whether a school meets the ESEA definition of making adequate yearly progress – to drive our decisions on what kinds of interventions and supports or requirements our schools receive.”
Below is the federal announcement of Delaware’s approval as well as an overview with highlights of Delaware’s plan. Delaware’s full application is available here.
U.S. Department of Education
Office of Communications & Outreach, Press Office
400 Maryland Ave., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20202
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Contact: Press Office
202-401-1576 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Obama Administration Approves Eight More States for NCLB Waivers
19 States Approved So Far; 17 States and DC Still Under Review; Other States Can Still Apply
The Obama administration approved eight additional states for flexibility from key provisions of No Child Left Behind in exchange for state-developed plans to prepare all students for college and career, focus aid on the neediest students, and support effective teaching and leadership. Today’s announcement brings the number of states with waivers to 19. Eighteen additional applications are still under review.
At an event in Hartford, Connecticut with Governor Dannel Malloy, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and a host of local, state and federal officials, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced waivers for Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island.
“These eight additional states are getting more flexibility with federal funds and relief from NCLB’s one-size-fits-all federal mandates in order to develop locally-tailored solutions to meet their unique educational challenges,” said Secretary Duncan.
Duncan pointed out that many of the new state-created accountability systems capture more students at risk, including low-income students, students with disabilities, and English learners, adding, “States must show they are protecting children in order to get flexibility. These states met that bar.”
Connecticut’s plan, for example, raises the number of schools accountable for the performance of; students with disabilities from 276 to 683; free and reduced-price lunch students from 757 to 928; African-American students from 280 to 414; Hispanic students from 356 to 548; and English-learners from 97 to 209.
States previously granted waivers include Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
Highlights of Delaware's ESEA Flexibility Request
College and Career-Ready Expectations for All Students
Delaware adopted English language arts and math standards now in place in 45 other states and the District of Columbia, and has a high-quality implementation plan building on transition efforts being implemented under its approved Race to the Top plan. Delaware will work closely with institutions of higher education (IHE’s) on transitioning to college- and career-ready standards. This includes the establishment of a workgroup to address teacher education preparation to ensure that teachers new to the field are prepared to teach to the new standards and assess student performance against the new standards. Delaware has established Early Learning and Development Standards, known as “Early Learning Foundations,” that are aligned with college- and career-ready standards.
Improved State and District Accountability for all Students
Ambitious Performance Targets: Delaware will keep the adequate yearly progress (AYP) construct and set new annual targets to reduce by half the percentage of non-proficient students in six years.
Aggressive Plan for Turning Around the Lowest-Performing Schools: Delaware will identify the lowest-performing schools in the State as “Priority schools” and ensure that districts implement meaningful interventions in these schools. Building on the work already taking place in the State, Delaware will use the Partnership Zone model to support Priority schools. Priority schools will work with the State's School Turnaround Unit, which conducts walkthroughs of the schools, provides technical assistance involving research-based best practices, identifies potential supporting partners and monitors progress. Schools will select one of the four School Improvement Grant (SIG) intervention models.
Renewed Focus on Closing Achievement Gaps: Delaware will identify the schools in the State with the greatest challenges for groups of students as “Focus schools” and demand interventions to improve student performance. Districts would be required to select interventions that directly address the reason the schools were identified. Examples of interventions include expanded learning time to improve academic achievement and strategies to address social, emotional, and health needs to address disciplinary problems and high dropout rates. Schools not classified as Reward (highest-performing and highest-progress), Priority or Focus will receive a rating based on the performance of a combined subgroup of students, including students with disabilities, English Learners, Hispanic students, African American students, and economically disadvantaged students. Delaware will implement this approach so that the performance of all students contributes to a school’s rating, despite the number of students in each individual subgroup being lower than 40. Delaware will reduce the minimum number of students necessary for individual subgroup performance to be considered (known as “n-size”) from 40 to 30 beginning in 2012-13. This will increase significantly the number of student subgroups included in school and district AYP determinations, particularly for students with disabilities and English learners. Specifically, the number of schools considering the performance of students with disabilities increases from 59 to 84 in reading and 62 to 95 in math; the number of schools considering the performance of English Learners increases from 33 to 46 in reading and 34 to 48 in math.
Building Capacity for School Improvement: Delaware is creating a tiered system of support for districts, and will classify districts for support based on the performance of their schools. The State will create a needs analysis for each district and will consider individual subgroup performance in designing support strategies. Delaware will assign each district support levels based on the respective ratings of schools in the district. All districts will receive a basic level of assistance and the districts in need of the most intense support will receive assistance through one-on-one support and quarterly monitoring.
Transparently Reporting on Students’ Progress: Delaware will maintain its rigorous schedule for reporting student performance on its statewide assessments. Information is publicly reported on the State’s website and on the respective school and district profile page.
Supporting Effective Instruction and Leadership
Delaware has developed and adopted the Delaware Performance Appraisal System II (DPAS II). State law requires that the DPAS II have five components, with one dedicated exclusively to student improvement. Without a “satisfactory” rating on the school improvement component, a teacher or specialist cannot be considered effective. Delaware will fund expert evaluators to provide in-house technical assistance and monitoring to each district. Teachers and principals will participate in conferences with evaluators, with the goal of developing a common understanding of strengths and areas in need of improvement. Information from the evaluation system will be used to improve instruction and drive professional development.
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street, Suite #2
Dover, Delaware 19901
Phone: (302) 735-4035
Fax: (302) 739-4654
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