Charleston, W.Va. -- Building on the significant progress seen in America’s schools over the last six years, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) announced today that West Virginia and seven other states have received multiple years of continued flexibility from provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The seven other states approved today are Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, New York and the District of Columbia.
“We are pleased the USDE is acting to give West Virginia the continued flexibility we need to move forward with our state-developed accountability system,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano. “We are committed to every child graduating prepared for college and careers. I am hopeful Congress will take action this year to make this type of flexibility permanent for our schools and students."
Over the past four years, the USDE has partnered with state and district leaders to provide flexibility from some of the most unworkable provisions of NCLB in exchange for taking bold action to improve student outcomes and ensure that every child has the opportunity to get a great education.
Flexibility has led to a greater focus on ensuring that schools have the same expectation of college- and career-readiness for every student. States are focusing resources on comprehensive, rigorous interventions in the lowest-performing schools while ensuring that all low-achieving students have the supports they need to catch up to their peers. Flexibility also has had the effect of improving teacher and principal effectiveness across the country with a focus on creating feedback systems that give evidence of the impact teachers and principals are having on student learning and shining a light on best practices for supporting teachers’ development.
Since the USDE began offering flexibility, 42 states and the District of Columbia have all taken advantage of the opportunity. Demonstrating that states see the value of these partnerships and are continuing to make progress, every single state whose initial waiver is expiring has submitted a request, or committed to submitting a request by the end of this month, to recommit to the innovative work they began under ESEA flexibility.
The eight states approved for flexibility today are on track to fully meet their commitments under the flexibility program. They were invited to participate in an expedited review process developed with input from states which included submitting their renewal requests by March 31, 2015. West Virginia will have a three-year flexibility renewal through the 2017-18 school year.
In granting flexibility, the USDE set a high bar for reform but left states ample flexibility in how to achieve their goals. Examples of work going on in West Virginia include:
· Implementation of a program that provides continuous support for priority schools, utilizing dedicated state-level school improvement coordinators who meet weekly with school leadership teams to determine the specific needs of each school and to provide a customized approach to school improvement
· Implementation of the Educator Evaluation System statewide, which includes training approximately 1,000 teacher-leaders through the state’s Teacher Leadership Institute
The Teacher Leadership Institute focuses on integrating student learning goals as integral components of instructional planning, delivery and assessment. Educators are able to receive customized professional development based on their needs as determined through self-assessments and their evaluators’ performance reviews. The new focus is on personalized support for teachers, with the goal of improving instruction and learning outcomes for all students.
In the event that Congress reauthorizes ESEA, the USDE will work with states to help them transition to the new law. Letters to the eight states that have been approved for ESEA flexibility renewal are available on the ESEA flexibility page.
For more information please contact the West Virginia Department of Education at 304-558-2699.