Recently, there have been two important developments related to nationwide flexibilities offered by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) regarding School Year (SY) 2020-21 ESEA accountability processing, reporting, and school identifications. First, a COVID-19 Addendum already submitted to ED by the Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE), and second, a subsequent Accountability Waiver Letter and request template sent to chief state school officers from ED offering states waivers from certain accountability requirements. Neither of these ED initiated flexibilities include the waiving of required statewide assessments.
Request for Public Comment
This public comment process is intended to provide feedback to HIDOE to consider in requesting the Accountability Waiver from ED. Provided in the following sections are (1) a description of the COVID-19 Addendum request, (2) a description of the Accountability Waiver currently under consideration for submission to ED, and (3) a link to the Accountability Waiver Letter and HIDOE’s waiver proposal which describe the waivers offered by ED and HIDOE’s supporting comments for these waivers.
The Accountability Waiver allows states to move school identifications currently required in the COVID-19 Addendum for Fall 2021 until Fall 2022. The impact of requesting the Accountability Waiver is that it effectively negates the currently submitted COVID-19 Addendum, as one of the key requirements of the COVID-19 Addendum requires schools to be identified in Fall 2021.
COVID-19 Addendum Submission
On February 1, 2021, HIDOE submitted an addendum to revise SY 2020-21 processing and growth methodology due to federal assessment and accountability waivers granted for SY 2019-20 that resulted in a lack of assessment results. The addendum requested moving the measurements of interim progress and long-term goals forward by one year; a revision to the growth methodology to utilize ‘skip-year’ growth; a revision to move CSI and A-TSI school identifications from Fall 2020 to Fall 2021; and a revision to the methodology used to identify TSI schools with consistently underperforming subgroups. ED will not make a decision on this submitted addendum if HIDOE submits the following accountability waiver.
On February 22, 2021, ED released information on an ESEA accountability waiver that will be offered to state educational agencies. The details for this waiver application are provided in a template that is also the mechanism for states to submit its accountability waiver to ED. This is not a waiver from administering required statewide summative assessments.
The following section is a summarization of the February 22, 2021 letter.
ED’s Stated Values and Expectations
- Safely reopen schools and get students back in classrooms, learning face-to-face from teachers with their fellow students is a priority.
- Understand the impact COVID-19 has had on learning and identify what resources and supports students need.
- Address the educational inequities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, including by using student learning data to target resources and supports to the students with the greatest needs. In addition, parents need information on how their children are doing.
- Remain committed to supporting all states in assessing the learning of all students.
The following table lists flexibilities/assurances cited in ED’s accountability waiver letter and template.
|Flexibilities for Accountability|
1. Accountability and School Identifications
- Waive the requirement to implement and report the results of its accountability system, including calculating progress toward long-term goals and measurements of interim progress or indicators, or to annually meaningfully differentiate among its public schools using data from the 2020-2021 school year.
- Waive the requirement that the Academic Achievement indicator be adjusted to account for a participation rate below 95 nercent.
- Waive the requirement to identify schools for comprehensive support and improvement (CSI), targeted support and improvement (TSI), and additional targeted support and improvement (ATSI) based on data from the 2020-2021 school vear.
- States are required to continue to support previously identified schools in the 2021-2022 school year, except CSI low graduation rate schools that meet the state's exit criteria and resume school identification in the fall of 2022.
- States will identify CSI, ATSI, and TSI schools using data from the 2021-22 school year in the fall of 2022.
2. Transparency and Public Reporting
- Waive certain Report Card provisions that include:
- Accountability system description.
- Other Academic indicator (Growth) for schools that are not high schools.
- Student Success indicator (Chronic Absenteeism).
- Progress towards meeting long-term goals and measurements of interim progress.
- Waiving these requirements for school-level Report Cards.
- Report chronic absenteeism data .
- Report data on student and/or teacher access to technology devices and high-speed internet, disaggregated by the subgroups, to the extent such data are collected at the state.
- If there are places where students are unable to attend school safely in person because of the pandemic they should not be brought into school buildings for the sole purpose of taking a test.
- A state should consider:
- Administering a shortened version of its statewide assessments;
- Offering remote administration, where feasible; and/or
- Extending the testing window to the greatest extent practicable.
- Focus on assessments to provide information about student performance and to help target resources and supports.
- States may request assessment waivers based on unique circumstances and hardships.
SY 2020-21 Accountability Waiver Letter and HIDOE Proposal
HIDOE recommends requesting the flexibilities of the Accountability Waiver and retracting the submitted addendum if the waiver is approved. The use of test data to assess learning loss and potential increases in achievement gaps and educational disparities are critically important. As such, this waiver encourages the use of 2020-21 assessment data for this purpose but also addresses some concerns that such results are not a valid representation of school populations by waiving the accountability requirement for the identification of low-performing schools and subgroups.
We appreciate any feedback on HIDOE’s proposed accountability waiver and its assurances. The deadline for comments is Wednesday, May 12, 2021. To submit comments, please complete this survey.