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Request for Public Comment: 1% Waiver

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) amended a provision of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 related to students participating in alternate assessments of each state education agency’s (SEA) statewide assessment. The ESSA requires SEAs to submit waiver requests to the United States Department of Education in the event they have more than 1% of their students participating in the alternate assessment. Based on current data, the state exceeded the 1% state cap enacted by the ESSA for school year 2018-19. The actual percentages of students assessed on the AA-AAAS is listed below:

ELA         1.45%

Math     1.46% 

Therefore, the department intends to submit a waiver request here as set forth in 34 C.F.R. §200.6(c)(4). Public comments may be sent to Alison.Gauld@tn.gov by February 26, 2020.

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Waiver Requests

The department is seeking public comment on the following waiver requests. For each waiver below, there is a brief summary of the waiver request as well as a link to the full text of the waiver itself. Please send comments to Education.Feedback.@tn.gov by April 20, 2020. Please indicate the name of the waiver in the subject line of the email.

U.S. Department of Education (USEd) Waiver Requests

·         Tennessee Waiver Request – ESEA Assessment, Accountability, Fiscal, 03.16.20 (Pending)

Tennessee is seeking available flexibilities and waivers for assessment, accountability determinations, and accountability components, as well as other requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act. After the department submitted this waiver request to USEd, Secretary DeVos issued this letter to State Education Chiefs, “inviting your State to request a waiver, for the 2019-2020 school year, of the assessment requirements in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA, the accountability and school identification requirements in sections 1111(c)(4) and 1111(d)(2)(C)-(D), and certain reporting requirements related to assessments and accountability in section 1111(h).” This letter included a waiver template, which the department submitted on March 20 (see ESEA Assessment, Accountability, and Reporting Waiver Request, below). However, there are components of this waiver that were not included in the template and therefore are still pending approval.

·         Tennessee Waiver Request – Charter School Program, 03.17.20 (Pending)

Tennessee is seeking this waiver to allow for the deployment of Charter School Program grant funds to assist charter schools in ensuring continued provision of academic and support services to students during and after the period of extended school closure and community recovery.

·         Tennessee Waiver Request – ESEA Title IV Technology Caps, 03.20.20 (Pending)

Tennessee is seeking this waiver to allow for flexibility and removal of the 15% technology cap on the Title IV, Part A, Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant to allow districts to purchase devices, equipment, connectivity, platforms, and adaptive software applications in order to ensure that the 973,659 students across Tennessee have access to and can participate in distance learning.

·         Tennessee Waiver Request – ESEA Assessment, Accountability, and Reporting, 03.20.20 (Approved: USEd Approval Response, 03.27.20)

As stated above, Tennessee is seeking a waiver of the following: assessment requirements in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA, the accountability and school identification requirements in sections 1111(c)(4) and 1111(d)(2)(C)-(D), and certain reporting requirements related to assessments and accountability in section 1111(h).

·         Tennessee Waiver Request – ESEA Period of Performance, 03.25.20 (Pending)

Tennessee is requesting a waiver to extend the period of performance for an additional 12 months for all remaining FY18, FY19, and FY20 ESEA grant funds and allowing the additional 90 days for liquidation after the period of performance. With extended school closures, this waiver would allow districts time and flexibility to reset and reevaluate how best to support students following the current crises.

·         Tennessee Waiver Request – Perkins V, 03.25.20 (Pending)

Tennessee is seeking to flexibility on several Perkins V requirements, including: accountability, state administration, local applications, local uses of funds, fiscal requirements, and other fiscal and compliance requirements.

·         Tennessee Waiver Request – ESEA Public Reporting Requirements, 03.25.20 (Pending)

In addition to the ESEA waivers submitted on March 16 and March 20, Tennessee is seeking waivers for additional components found in annual public reporting, namely a one-year waiver to exclude annual local education agency and state report card requirements for the 2019-20 school year. Tennessee is not seeking a waiver from dutifully collecting and the data, but only a one-year waiver on reporting, to provide consistency and stability in a promise that the Report Card will remain consistent. The department intends to still collect and monitor the quality of available data that would have been reported within this waiver, removing only the public reporting requirements found in §1111 (h).

·         Tennessee Waiver Request – ESEA Fiscal Provisions 04.06.20 (Pending)

The U.S. Department of Education has offered additional flexibility by releasing an expedited waiver for the state to approve a district to carry over more than 15 percent of its Title I, Part A funds, even if the district had received approval to exceed this limitation in the past three years. It also allows the state to extend the period of availability of funds expiring September 30, 2020 to allow an additional 12 months to obligate those funds.  The TDOE could also permit a district to use its Title IV, Part A funds to best meet its needs without regard to content-area spending requirements, spending limits on technology infrastructure, or completing a needs assessment. Finally, by waiving the definition of professional development, the state and districts would be able to conduct time-sensitive, one-time or stand-alone professional development focused on supporting your educators to provide effective distance learning. The contents of this waiver address several of the waivers submitted by the Tennessee Department of Education on March 20 and March 25, 2020 noted above.

 

LEA and Charter School Waiver Requests

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