As we’ve reported, 26 states and the District of Columbia submitted applications before the second round ESEA waiver deadline on February 28. (Maine and New Hampshire decided it was better to turn their homework in late, while California has decided it deserves some special treatment.) Admittedly, it’s been taking us awhile to get through the 10,000 pages that landed on the Department of Education’s doorstep last month. But we do have a few quick insights to tide you over while we rub our eyes and re-caffeinate. This initial topline view of the 27 latest requests is based on a quick count of which states selected particular options in their applications. While not providing a deep analysis of any state’s plan, these check-box selections give a basic sense of how states reacted to the flexibility they were given by the Department.
Every second round state – except Virginia – is an adopter of the Common Core. But faced with a choice between declaring it had adopted standards “common to a significant number of States” or standards approved by the state’s public higher ed institutions, Oregon chose neither. Oregon adopted the Common Core in October 2010 and has postsecondary representatives helping to implement it in the state. Ohio, on the other hand, checked off both boxes. It adopted the Common Core in June 2010. Idaho, another Common Core adopter, also chose the public higher ed institution option. As for Virginia, its standards are approved by the state’s public colleges and universities (“Option B”).
Eleven states are members of PARCC and 17 are members of Smarter Balanced, the two consortia working to develop common assessments aligned with the Common Core. If you’re wondering, “hey, that doesn’t add up…,” that’s because two states, Arizona and South Carolina, belong to both groups and haven’t agreed to use either assessment yet. Oregon, again, forgot to check the box (though we counted its Smarter Balanced membership anyway). And Virginia doesn’t get to play because it hasn’t adopted the Common Core.
Ten states plan on using student achievement in subjects beyond English Language Arts and math in their accountability systems.1 Each of these states plan on incorporating science tests, while four add social studies.2 Though the Common Core’s English Language Arts standards include a writing component, five states distinguish writing as its own separate test.3 All of the ten save Washington, Utah, and Illinois also plan on creating their own Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) – i.e. achievement targets – for school and district improvement. That sounds ambitious, but we haven’t dug deep enough yet to confirm just how rigorous these new targets will be. As for states’ choice of AMOs, nearly twice as many (17 states4) chose to create their own rather than select one of the suggested options (nine states5). All nine states chose to set their AMOs to halve the percentage of non-proficient students in each subgroup over the next six years. No states opted to set AMOs that would result in 100 percent proficiency by 2019-2020. Oregon wants each district to set its own AMO each year.
The third principle for ESEA flexibility is the creation of evaluation and support systems for principals and teachers. To earn a waiver, states must adopt guidelines for these systems and distribute them to LEAs to be piloted in SY 2013-14. It’s worth noting that no state has completed this process. Sixteen seventeen states haven’t begun the adoption process,6 while 10 have completed some or all elements.7*
We’ll come back and update you with more specifics once we’ve done some more reading, though one thing’s for certain: we don’t envy the Department’s evaluators. Stay tuned for more.
Written by Education Sector Policy Intern Scott Baumgartner
*3/23/12: Figure and data are updated to reflect revised Department of Education ESEA Flexibility Guidance.
1. Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
2. Louisiana, Michigan, South Carolina, and Virginia.
3. Connecticut, Michigan, Utah, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
4. Arizona, Connecticut, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.
5. Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington
6. Arkansas, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
7. Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, North Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.