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VA April 17 Letter

VA April 17 Letter

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Published by The Washington Post
The U.S. Department of Education critiques Virginia's request for relief from some of the most vexing parts of No Child Left Behind.
The U.S. Department of Education critiques Virginia's request for relief from some of the most vexing parts of No Child Left Behind.

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Published by: The Washington Post on Apr 27, 2012
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04/27/2012

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UNITEDSTATESDEPARTMENTOF
EnUCA
TION
OFFICEOFELEMENTARYANDSECONDARYEDUCATION
April17,2012TheHonorablePatricia
1.
WrightSuperintendentofPublicInstructionVirginiaDepartmentofEducationP.o.Box2120Richmond,Virginia23218DearSuperintendentWright:ThankyouforsubmittingVirginia'srequestforESEAflexibility.Weappreciatethehardworkrequiredtotransitiontocollege-andcareer-readystandardsandassessments;developasystemofdifferentiatedrecognition,accountability,andsupport;andevaluateandsupportteacherandleadereffectiveness.TheU.S.DepartmentofEducation(Department)isencouragedthatVirginiaandmanyotherStatesaredesigningplanstoincreasethequalityofinstructionandimprovestudentacademicachievement.Asyouknow,Virginia'srequestwasreviewedbyapanelofsixpeerreviewersduringtheweekofMarch26-30,2012.Duringthereview,theexpertpeersconsideredeachcomponentofVirginia'srequestandprovidedcommentsintheformofPeerPanelNotesthattheSecretarywillusetoinformanyrevisionsto);ourrequestthatmaybeneededtomeettheprinciplesofRSEAflexibility.ThePeerPanelNotes,acopyofwhichisenclosedwiththisletter,alsoprovidefeedbackonthestrengthsofVirglnia'srequestandareasthatwouldbenefitfromfurtherdevelopment.DepartmentstaffalsohavecarefullyreviewedVirginia'srequest,takingintoaccountthePeerPanelNotes,todetermineconsistencywiththeESEAflexibilityprinciples.Thepeersnoted,andweagxee,thatVirginia'srequestdescribesaparticularlystrongstandards-developmentinfrastructureusedtoenhancethequalityoftheState'sstandardsandimprovestudentachievement.PeersalsonotedthatVirginiadescribesanaccountabilitysystembasedontheStateaccreditationsystemthathasthepotentialtobeeffectiveandeasilyunderstoodbyparents,teachers,andthepublic.Atthesametime,basedonthepeerreviewers'commentsandourreviewofthematerialsVirginiahasprovidedtodate,wehaveidentifiedcertaincomponentsofyourrequestthatneedfurther
www.ed.gov400MARYLANDAVE.,SW,WASHINGTON,DC20202
TheDepartmentofEducation'smissionistopromotestudentachievementandpreparationforglobalcompetitiveness
by
fosteringeducationalexcellenceandensuringequalaccess.
 
Page2
clarification,additionaldevelopment,or
revision,
Inparticular,significantconcernswereidentifiedwithrespecttothefollowing:Thelackofsubgroupaccountabilitybeyondreporting;Thelackofambitiousbutachievableannualmeasureablcobjectives(AMO)thatprovideameaningfulincentiveforschoolstoimprove;andThelackofclarityregardinghowVirginia
will
ensurethatlocaleducationalagencies(LEAs)
will
develop,adopt,pilot,andimplementteacherandprincipalevaluationandsupportsystemsthatincludeasasignificantfactordataonstudentgrowthforallstudentsindetenniningperformancelevels.Theenclosedlistprovidesdetailsregardingtheseconcerns,aswellasotherkeyissuesraisedinthereviewofVirginia'srequest,thatwebelievemustbeaddressedbeforetheSecretarycanapproveyourrequestforESEAflexibility.WeencourageVirginiatoconsiderallofthepeers'commentsandtechnicalassistancesuggestionsinmakingrevisionstoitsrequest,butweencourageyoutofocusprimarilyonaddressingtheconcernsidentifiedontheenclosedlistAdditionally,VirginiahasrequestedthefollowingadditionalwaiversinitsESEAflexibilityrequestthatarenotamongthewaiversthatcompriseESEAflexibility:AwaiverofTideIII,PartArequirementsthatwouldallowVirginiatoholdthecurrentprogressandproficiencytargets.
(pf{_ge
48
if
request)
AwaiverofTideIII,PartArequirementsthatwouldallowVirginiatoexemptEnglishLearnersnewlyarrivedtothecountryfromtestingforuptotwofullyears.
(page
48
o]request)
AwaiverofhighlyqualifiedteacherrequirementsthatwouldallowVirginiatodiscontinuecollectingandreportingdataonhighlyqualifiedteachers.
(page
71
if
request)
Pleasenotethat,althoughthoseadditionalwaiverrequestsarenotaddressedinthisletter,wewillfollowupwithyourstaffinthecomingdaysabouttheprocessforconsiderationofthoserequests.AlthoughthePeerPanelNotesforVirginiaprovideinformationspecifictoyourrequest,VirginiaalsomaybenefitfromcommentsandtechnicalassistancesuggestionsmadebyotherpeerpanelsregardingissuescommontomultipleStateeducationalagencies'(SEA)requests.Forthisreason,DepartmentstaffwillreachouttoVirginiatoproviderelevanttechnicalassistancesuggestionsandotherconsiderationsthatmaybeusefulasyoureviseandrefineyourrequest.WeremaincommittedtoworkingwithVirginiatomeettheprinciplesofESEAflexibilityandimproveoutcomesforallstudents.WestandreadytoworkwithVirginiaasquicklyaspossible.Inordertoensurepromptconsiderationofrevisionsoradditionalmaterials,weareaskingSEAstosubmitthosematerialsbyMay1,2012.Departmentstaffwillbeintouchtosetupacallasearlyasthisweektodiscussthetimelineandprocessforprovidingrevisionsormaterials.
 
Page3
Youandyourteamdeservegreatcreditforyoureffortsthusfar,andweareconfidentthatwewillbeabletoworktogethertoaddressoutstandingconcerns.
If
youhaveanyadditionalquestionsorwanttorequesttechnicalassistance,pleasedonothesitatetocontactPatJohnson,at202-260-7813.Sincerely,
.~
ActingAssistantSecretaryEnclosure

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