May 30, 2012

Michael Yudin, Acting Assistant Secretary Office of Elementary and Secondary Education U.S. Department of Education 400 Maryland Ave., SW Washington, DC 20202 Dear Acting Assistant Secretary Yudin: I am writing to update you on Iowa’s progress on its ESEA flexibility request. Over the past few weeks, we have worked through many of the concerns the U.S. Department of Education (USED) has pertaining to Principle 1 and Principle 2. These conversations may have resulted in a plan for one of the best accountability systems in the nation and one that will improve outcomes for all students. Throughout the waiver process, USED staff continued to ask us what actions were being taken by the legislature regarding the Governor’s Education Reform Bill that was filed in January. Since the beginning of the waiver process, the guidance from the USED on Principle 3 clearly indicated that states must meaningfully differentiate performance using at least three performance levels and that multiple, valid measures must be used to determine performance levels, including, as a significant factor, data on student growth for all students as well as other measures of professional practice. This was clarified again for states in your communication dated May 22, 2012. The USED indicated via waiver guidance and on numerous conference calls that the Iowa Department of Education (IDE) needs clear authority to establish differentiated performance levels for teachers and principals using at least three performance levels and to establish how student learning and growth will be a significant factor in determining these levels of performance. In Senate File 2284, signed into law on May 25, the Iowa legislature did not give the IDE any authority to take the necessary actions to implement an evaluation system meeting the ESEA waiver requirements. Instead, the legislature directed a task force to study these issues and make recommendations in the next legislative session beginning in January 2013. As such, the IDE does not have the authority to issue evaluation guidelines addressing two of the required areas in the waiver. Having invested more than 3,500 hours of staff time in preparation of the ESEA request, the consideration of investing more time with little hope of being able to meet the ESEA flexibility requirements due to statutory restraints gives me pause. Given that the statutory configuration in Iowa does not allow the IDE to meet the ESEA flexibility requirements related to Principle 3, we respectfully request further guidance on any option that may be available to the state at this time. Sincerely,

Jason E. Glass Director and Chief Learner Iowa Department of Education Cc: Liz Grant, USED Sue Rigney, USED Kevin Fangman, IDE Wilma Gajdel, IDE
Grimes State Office Building - 400 E 14th St - Des Moines IA 50319-0146 PHONE (515) 281-5294 FAX (515) 242-5988 www.educateiowa.gov
Championing Excellence for all Iowa Students through Leadership and Service

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