For immediate release:
March 20, 2012
Kathy Toelkes, Director of Communications, 785-296-4876
Three Kansas school districts receive partial waiver
of NCLB requirements
TOPEKA – A final determination on the waiver requests made by three Kansas school districts with regard to some of the assessment requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation was reached on Monday, March 19. In a phone call to the Kansas State Department of Education, Michael Yudin, acting assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education at the U.S. Department of Education, said the districts would be allowed to use the ACT exam in place of state assessments in reading and math for accountability purposes in high school, and the ACT EXPLORE exam in place of state assessments for eighth grade students. However, the districts will not be allowed to use the EXPLORE exam for grades six and seven, nor will they be allowed to use the Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) exam for accountability purposes in grades three through seven.
The original decision from the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) was received March 9. When the Kansas State Board of Education met March 13, they voted to support a request to reconsider the decision not to allow the EXPLORE exam for grades six and seven or the MAP exam for grades three through seven. That appeal request was delivered March 14.
“While we are disappointed that these school districts were not granted their waivers in full, we are grateful that they are able to use the ACT exam for accountability for their high school students and the EXPLORE exam with their eighth grade students,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Diane DeBacker. “These districts can continue their strategies for achieving college and career readiness by high school graduation, although not in as efficient a manner as the waiver would have allowed. They will be challenged by the need to administer the state assessments in addition to the college- and career-ready exams they sought through their waivers.”
The districts seeking the waivers are McPherson, USD 418; Kansas City Kansas, USD 500 and Clifton-Clyde, USD 224. This is the second year the McPherson School District has sought a waiver regarding the assessment requirements in NCLB. Last year the district was the first in the nation to be granted a waiver to use the ACT exam at the high school level and the EXPLORE exam for grades six through eight for a one-year pilot period.
The Kansas City and Clifton-Clyde school districts were requesting waivers for the first time this year. The Kansas City Kansas School District sought to use the ACT for high school students, the EXPLORE for students in grade 8 and the MAP exam for students in grades three through seven. In Clifton-Clyde, the waiver requested the use of ACT for high school, EXPLORE for grades 6 through eight and the MAP exam for grades three through five.
In denying the appeal request, Yudin said the USDOE staff appreciated the impressive nature of the information provided by each district and the desire to raise standards in the effort to transition to college and career readiness. However, he said that given the exceptional nature of these waivers, the agency was not prepared to extend the waiver to assessments outside the state assessment system, other than to the widely used and recognized ACT exams for high school and grade 8.
The decision means that those school districts will now need to administer state assessments to the students in the affected grades before the testing window closes. That window was scheduled to close April 20, but State Board members voted earlier this month to extend the window by two weeks, until May 4, should the appeal to the USDOE be denied.