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Notice for Public Comment - Field Test Flexibility Waiver

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Date: 
Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Iowa is seeking the double-testing flexibility for the participating  local schools by requesting a one-year waiver of the following requirements in Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

As part of the waiver application process, the public is invited to provide comment on the content of the waiver request by filling out Field Testing Waiver Opportunity form. Comments must be received by 12:00 p.m. Thursday, November 21.

Field Test Waiver FAQs

Field Test Flexibility Waiver

In the 2013–2014 school year, Iowa Department of Education (“Iowa”) will be field testing the new Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) reading/language arts and mathematics assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards. Per the Secretary’s June 18, 2013, announcement, Iowa is seeking the double-testing flexibility for the participating  local schools by requesting a one-year waiver of the following requirements in Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended, and their associated regulatory provisions:

  • ESEA sections 1111(b)(1)(B) and 1111(b)(3)(C)(i), which require a state educational agency (SEA) to apply the same academic achievement standards, and to use the same academic assessments, for all public school children in the state.  Iowa requests these waivers so that any individual student within Iowa will be  required to take only one assessment in each content area in 2013–2014 — either the current state assessment or the full form of the field test of the new assessment aligned to college- and career-ready standards.
  • ESEA section 1111(b)(3)(C)(xii), which requires the provision of individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports that include information regarding achievement on state assessments to parents, teachers, and principals as soon as is practically possible after an assessment is given.  Iowa requests this waiver to permit Iowa and its local educational agencies (LEAs) to refrain from producing or providing these reports for a student’s performance on a field test.

On behalf of participating schools, Iowa is also seeking the determination flexibility by requesting a one-year waiver of the following ESEA requirements and their associated regulatory provisions:

  • ESEA sections 1111(h)(1)(C)(ii) and 1111(h)(2)(B), which require an SEA and an LEA, respectively, to report on performance against annual measurable objectives (AMOs). Iowa requests these waivers to permit Iowa and its LEAs to refrain from reporting performance against AMOs for the subject(s) being field tested in any school or single-school LEA that participates in the field test of the new assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards.  Iowa and its LEAs, however, will report performance against AMOs, as applicable, for a subject that is not part of the field test in a school or single-school LEA that is participating in the field test, for all schools or single-school LEAs that are not participating in the field test, and for all LEAs (except single-school LEAs participating in the field test).  
  • ESEA sections 1116(a)(1)(A) and 1116(c)(1)(A), which require an LEA and an SEA, respectively, to use the state’s academic assessments and other academic indicators to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations for schools and LEAs. Iowa requests this waiver to permit an LEA within Iowa that has one or more schools participating in the field test to refrain from making AYP determinations for each of those schools and to permit Iowa to refrain from making AYP determinations for a single-school LEA participating in the field test.  

Iowa is requesting the determination waiver be extended to participating schools that test grades 4, 8, and 11 with the current state assessment, as required under Iowa Code. For example, if grade 11 is not granted this determination waiver, it eliminates an incentive for most Iowa high schools to participate in the SBAC field test, and jeopardizes the likelihood of acquiring the needed sample size for the field test. Also, through public feedback, Iowa acknowledges that many school boards want to continue to provide yearly assessment reports to their parents, and thus will need to double- test to receive a useable report. As such, Iowa is requesting that double testing waivers and determinations be independent decisions, and not linked to each other.

For schools that participate in the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) consortium's field test only, Iowa requests that these students be counted as proficient students for purposes of the alternate assessment for 2013-2014. This way, excluding students from the alternate assessment count will not adversely affect the final outcome for the Individualized Education Program (IEP) subgroup.

Iowa additionally requests that for schools participating in the SBAC field test, and for whom their AYP status is frozen, the school’s data will not be included in district-level AYP decisions. It is much less complicated than mixing data across different school years to roll-up to a district level decision. While data on statewide assessments is reportable at the school level, it is more manageable to be able to exclude whole school’s data for district level decisions. Iowa also requests that if a district containing multiple buildings at elementary or middle school, and at least half of their buildings participates in the SBAC field test, their district AYP decisions will be frozen.

Iowa hereby assures that, if it is granted the requested waivers:

  • Iowa and its LEAs will ensure that all students in the tested grades who do not take the field test in a particular subject will take the current State assessment in that subject.
  • Iowa and its LEAs will make AYP determinations for all schools that do not participate in the field test and for all LEAs except single-school LEAs that participate in the field test based on current State assessments administered in the 2013–2014 school year.  
  • Iowa and its LEAs will report performance against AMOs for a subject that is not being field tested in any school participating in the field test, for all schools that do not participate in the field test, and for all LEAs (except single-school LEAs that participate in the field test of a tested subject).
  • Iowa and its LEAs will meet all reporting obligations with respect to reporting the achievement of students who take the current State assessments.
  • Pending action by the Iowa legislature, in 2014–2015, Iowa will administer the new reading/language arts and mathematics assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards, as well as state science assessments, to all students in the grades required to be tested in accordance with the ESEA.
  • Iowa will resume making AYP determinations for all schools and all single-school LEAs based on assessments administered in the 2014–2015 school year.  

In compliance with waiver request guidance, Iowa hereby assures that:

  • Iowa has properly notified all LEAs and schools that will participate in the field test of that participation.
  • Iowa has ensured that parents of students in each school participating in the field test have been notified of the school’s participation, including by ensuring that the notification to parents includes a discussion of the implications of the school’s participation in the field test and whether the parents’ child will participate in the field test.

Enclosed with this waiver request will be a list of all schools, including single-school LEAs, within Iowa that will participate in the field test of the new assessments aligned to college- and career-ready standards as well as an indication of which of those schools and single-school LEAs will not receive AYP determinations in light of their participation in the field test. Iowa has invited all schools to participate.
Prior to submitting this waiver request, Iowa is providing all LEAs in the state with notice and a reasonable opportunity to comment on this request. Iowa is providing such notice by email notification of field test opportunity to individual school districts. This posting serves as notice and information regarding this waiver request to the public in the manner in which Iowa customarily provides such notice and information to the public.

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on April 17, 2014 at 12:52pm.