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District of Columbia Submits ESEA Application to US Department of Education

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
OSSE, District requesting flexibility, waivers from No Child Left Behind

Washington, DC–The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) today officially submitted the District of Columbia’s federal waiver application to the US Department of Education for flexibility regarding the implementation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)–better known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

“Today is a monumental step toward creating an inclusive view of what successful student growth in the District of Columbia can look like,” said State Superintendent Hosanna Mahaley, noting that the District’s application should be considered especially strong compared to other states due to Washington, DC’s early adoption of common core standards, leading national ranking for K-12 Science Standards and status as a Race to the Top recipient. “We are proud of our waiver application and believe the District’s request reflects both student needs and the actual progress taking place in schools throughout our city.”

Since announcing its intention to apply, OSSE held over 50 in-person and online public engagement events to inform District stakeholders and residents around the waiver, including focus groups with parents, teachers and administrators, meetings with community coalitions and Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, and planning sessions with groups including the State Board of Education, DC Public Schools, neighborhood associations and the Public Charter School Board.

Components of the District’s ESEA application include an improved accountability system based on diversified annual objectives that will provide multiple measurements of student growth for OSSE, Local Education Agencies, and other education partners to maintain transparency around achievement gaps and target rewards and supports based on academic achievement and needs. Flexibility in the use of federal funds will also allow schools to tailor their programs and interventions to enhance student outcomes and school effectiveness.

“Schools want the opportunity to innovate and develop tailored solutions to the unique educational challenges of their schools and communities, and our flexibility application will allow them to do just that,” added Mahaley.

“This application is not a retreat from accountability, but instead a commitment to be smarter and more focused in how we evaluate students, set higher standards and expectations for teaching and learning and place schools in the best possible position to succeed.”