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Message from State Superintendent Aguirre Regarding the SBOE Waiver Approval

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dear LEAs:

As you know, the District of Columbia (DC) was granted a waiver by the US Department of Education of many of the components of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  This waiver is a key component of our work to accelerate improvement of student outcomes in a way that is meaningful and appropriate for DC students.  In consultation with key stakeholders, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) has developed a set of amendments and a request for an extension to this waiver that helps us maintain a rigorous and comprehensive education plan. The US Department of Education has reviewed our proposal and has indicated that it is approvable as submitted, and can now move forward for action by the DC State Board of Education (SBOE), as required by DC law.  This is excellent news for DC!  Updated information, including our waiver application and supporting resources are posted on our website for your review.   

One issue we expect the SBOE to discuss as they consider action on our proposal is whether the 2013-2014 Science assessment results should impact accountability classifications for the 2014-2015 school year.  Our proposal is based on several factors, including significant input from LEAs on the impact of the SBOE’s recent adoption of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  The SBOE’s adoption of the NGSS has prompted us to double our efforts to develop a next generation science assessment that we plan to administer next spring.  As such, we believe it is prudent to delay the inclusion of science from accountability classifications until a new assessment has been implemented and a new baseline established.  At a recent meeting with State Education chiefs from across the country, it became clear that we are very far ahead of most other states in the adoption of these standards and especially in the development of a new assessment.  I want to be clear that we are not in any way attempting to back track on our position and, in fact, we are absolutely committed to science.  I also want to be clear that we are not proposing the elimination of science from our ESEA accountability framework and remain committed to reporting science results as we did a few weeks ago as part of our DC CAS results release. 

Unfortunately, there may be several members of the SBOE that believe this is not a prudent approach and this aspect of our waiver proposal is at risk of being eliminated.  If this occurs, OSSE would be forced to produce revised accountability classifications for all schools.  We encourage LEAs with strong opinions on this issue to show up and voice their comments and opinions to SBOE members at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 27, 2014, at 441 4th Street, NW, in the Old Council Chambers.  If you wish to comment at this meeting, please notify SBOE staff in advance by phone at (202) 741-0888 or by email at [email protected] and furnish your name, address, telephone number, and organizational affiliation by the close of business the Monday prior to the meeting.

If you have questions or need additional information about this topic, please contact Iris Bond-Gill at [email protected]. As always, thank you for support as we strive to raise the quality of education for all DC residents.

Jesús Aguirre
State Superintendent
Office of the State Superintendent of Education
810 1st Street NE | Washington, DC 20002
P: (202) 727-3471 | E: [email protected]