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DC OSSE Responds to Federal Feedback, Prepares ESEA Waiver Application

Thursday, May 17, 2012
State Superintendent believes systemic change needed for ‘No Child Left Behind’

Washington, DC–The District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education (DC OSSE) today made available its preliminary response to the US Department of Education (ED) in relation to the District of Columbia’s federal waiver request regarding the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)–commonly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Revisions to the District’s application are currently underway in response to official feedback from ED following DC OSSE’s original ESEA waiver request, submitted February 28, and reflect DC OSSE’s commitment to meeting ED expectations for flexibility.

“From day one, our goal has been to submit an ESEA waiver application that is inclusive, transparent and comprehensive,” said State Superintendent Mahaley, noting that as an early adopter of implementing teacher and leader evaluation systems, DC OSSE was praised by ED for expansive community engagement and for preparing schools for the transition to college and career-ready standards in its original ESEA application. “We appreciate the support of the State Board of Education in our outreach efforts, value the Department of Education’s feedback and understand that student success requires collaboration and two-way dialogue.”

“Our robust communication with ED during the feedback process strengthens our likelihood for ESEA approval and strengthens education in the District of Columbia.”

In its official letter to DC OSSE, dated April 17, 2012, ED categorized feedback into three primary principles and requested additional information within each section. DC OSSE presented an executive summary to ED in response, addressing the specific questions raised within each principle and highlighting how the District’s modified ESEA application is aligned to federal requirements and geared to recognize and reward both schools that are the highest-achieving and those whose students are making the most progress.

“No Child Left Behind pushed the envelope in holding schools accountable to student achievement.  Yet while conceived with the best intentions, NCLB in its current incarnation is not working,” said Mahaley, citing that under current NCLB accountability requirements, an overwhelming majority of all District of Columbia schools would be classified as failing and forced to implement a ‘one size fits all’ approach to intervention.

“While we still have work to do, I believe our application gives us the best chance to focus our resources where and how they are needed most, sets targets that are ambitious, yet achievable, and addresses the need to recalibrate the status quo when it comes to education in the District of Columbia.”

Note: The DC OSSE ESEA Waiver Executive Summary, ED Feedback Letter and DC OSSE Response are available for download below.