NCLB Waiver Request
ESEA Section 9401 Statutory Requirements for LEA Waiver Request
From Nine of the Largest Iowa School Districts
Nine of Iowa’s largest school districts, all members of the Urban Education Network, are collaborating to request a waiver from the requirements related to School Choice, Supplemental Educational Services (SES), and associated set-aside funds as defined in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). These nine Iowa school districts include:
- Cedar Rapids Community School District
- Council Bluffs Community School District
- Davenport Community School District
- Des Moines Independent Community School District
- Dubuque Community School District
- Iowa City Community School District
- Muscatine Community School District
- Sioux City Community School District
- Waterloo Community School District
1) Federal program(s) affected by the requested waiver
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – No Child Left Behind
Title I – Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged
2) Federal statutory or regulatory requirements are to be waived
School Choice, Supplemental Educational Services (SES), and associated set-aside funds including ESEA Title I, sections 1116(b)(9) and(10); sections 1116(b)(1)(E), (b)(5)(A) and (B), (b)(7)(C)(i) and (iii), and (b)(8)(A)(i) and (ii); and section 1116(e). Regulations for ESEA Title I School Choice, Supplemental Educational Services (SES), and associated set-aside funds including 34 CFR 200.32(c) Identification for School Improvement (Choice and SES), 200.33(b)(2) Identification for Corrective Action (Choice and SES), 200.37(a)(4) and (5) Notification of Identification for Improvement, Corrective Action, or Restructuring, 200.39(a)(1)(i), (b) and (c) Responsibilities Resulting from Identification for School Improvement, 200.42(b)(1) and (3) Corrective Action, 200.43(b)(1) and (2) and (c)(1)(ii) and (iii) Restructuring, 200.44 Public School Choice, 200.45 Supplemental Educational Services, 200.46 LEA Responsibilities for SES, 200.48 Funding of Choice-related Transportation and SES, and 200.53(c)(2)(vii) LEA Corrective Action.
3) How the waiving of these requirements will increase the quality of instruction for students, and improve the academic achievement of students
Funds presently set aside for School Choice and SES will be utilized to provide school-level academic interventions for identified low-performing students in any Title I school. Currently, SES funds are utilized only for students who are low income and attend a Title I school in its third year or beyond of not making Annual Yearly Progress (AYP).
Approximately $6 million in Title I funds were set aside in 2013-14 in the nine school districts requesting this waiver to serve fewer than 7 percent of the students in their districts, with no significant evidence that students benefited academically from either SES or School Choice. For example, Des Moines Public School students in grades 4 – 11 considered “completers” during first semester of 2013-14 (students who utilized their full SES allocation) were compared with their peers – students in grades 4-11 in Title I schools who qualify for FRM and did not participate in SES.
- 59.49 percent of SES completers met typical growth on the Iowa Assessments reading test. In comparison, 62.76 percent of students eligible for but not participating in SES met typical growth, resulting in 3.27 percent less SES completers making typical growth than non-participating students.
- 55.70 percent of SES completers met typical growth on the Iowa Assessments math test. In comparison, 55.4 percent of students eligible for but not participating in SES met typical growth, resulting in only .3 percent more SES completers making typical growth than non-participating students.
This parallels trends generally seen nationwide. An evaluation study of the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. and released in May of 2012 found “no evidence of impacts on achievement of offering SES to students near the cusp of having access to services in six oversubscribed school districts….the student found no statistically significant impact of participating in SES on student achievement in reading or mathematics.” A study published by the Center for Research on Education Policy, The University of Memphis, in May of 2009 titled Implementation and Outcomes of Supplemental Educational Services: The 2007-2008 Tennessee State-Wide Evaluation Study found “the student achievement analyses mostly showed small, nonsignificant effects of tutoring serviced offered by individual providers.”
Funds now set aside for School Choice and SES will be utilized to provide additional school-level academic interventions for identified low-performing students in any Title I school. Use of set-aside funds in this manner will better meet the needs of Iowa students and result in increased student achievement because:
- additional school-level interventions can be offered in all Title I schools, not only Title I schools identified for School Choice and SES
- district assessment data will be utilized to identify students who need services and progress monitor the services in order to inform instruction
- students who are identified to be in need of additional reading or math instruction will be able to be served, not solely those who are low income
- students will be served in small groups where certified teachers can closely monitor their progress and adjust instruction
- more students will be reached through district interventions than are currently through SES
- instructional intervention time will increase
The use of Title I funds to support SES interventions that have not been determined to positively impact student achievement is of grave concern to the nine districts collaborating to request this waiver. Additional concerns expressed by districts include the following:
- Setting aside 20% of Title I funds precludes careful or efficient planning. Annually, districts set aside enough money which they do not spend on SES or School Choice to hire numerous additional staff members who could be providing focused reading and math interventions to students.
- SES providers are generally for-profit businesses. When it becomes apparent that profit is unavailable or small due to lack of enrollment, some vendors have walked away or failed to provide services, leaving children without additional support.
- Some providers went door-to-door, talking to parents and informing them they would get a computer if they signed up for a certain provider.
- SES providers are not assessing student progress related to their services through measures parents are familiar with, which is often confusing to parents.
- Communication between the provider and district regarding student progress generally occurs monthly. The district and providers do not use the same measures to monitor academic progress; therefore districts are not able to use academic information from providers to inform classroom instruction. If the program was offered by the district, the same assessments would be utilized and communication would be on a more frequent basis, allowing the services to inform classroom instruction.
- District costs for providing similar programming are less than costs of the SES provider program. Districts can offer more time to students for the same amount of funding.
- Many of the students who received SES were already performing at or above grade level academically.
- Most students whose families who utilized the School Choice option were unhappy with the school for reasons other than academic performance.
- The system for School Choice does not take into consideration the likelihood of crowded conditions at those schools that are chosen by many children. The response that districts should erect portable classrooms is not a well-planned solution and drains the districts of funds that have been identified for other purposes. Other costs have been incurred by districts to accommodate school choice requests, including the purchase of additional instructional material because new classrooms had to be added.
4) For each school year, specific, measurable educational goals [in accordance with Title I section 1111(b)] for the LEA or school(s) that would be affected by the waiver, and the methods to be used to measure annually the progress for meeting such goals and outcomes
The elimination of SES and School Choice in order to better utilize Title I funds to provide school-level academic interventions for under-performing students will most directly affect AYP goals for reading and math. Methodology used to measure the progress for meeting these goals will be enhanced through monitoring of additional goals based on student performance on Iowa Assessments. AYP results will continue to be monitoring and reported as they are currently. We anticipate AYP results will be positively impacted as a result of these additional school-level academic interventions.
Each of the nine districts will collect and report data each school year to measure the impact of the waiver request on student achievement. During the first year, 2014-15, baseline data for each participating school in all nine districts will be collected. For each school utilizing set-aside funds to implement additional school-level interventions in years two through four, the following goals will be monitored for each content area(s) in which the school is identified as “In Need of Assistance:”
- Increase the percent proficient on the Iowa Assessments from the previous year for the all FAY student group
- Increase the number of all FAY students progressing at least one achievement level from the previous year on the Iowa Assessments
Data will also be monitored and reported by subgroup in order to isolate areas of improvement and service delivery. It is expected that most subgroups will increase percent proficient and increase the number of students progressing at least one achievement level from the previous year.
5) Explain how the waiver will assist the affected local educational agency or school in reaching those goals
The nine Iowa districts collaborating to request this waiver represent 26.0 percent of all students in Iowa and 36.2 percent of all low income students in the state of Iowa. 57.2 percent of students in these districts qualify for free or reduced-price lunch (FRL) as compared to 41.1 percent of students statewide. The nine districts represent a significant portion of the children in Iowa, in particular, those who are poor and struggling academically.
Approximately $6 million in Title I funds were set aside in 2013-14 in these nine school districts to serve fewer than 7 percent of the students in their districts, with no significant evidence that students benefited academically from either SES or School Choice. Significant resources are being set aside for unproductive uses and affecting very few children. It is critical that these Title I funds are reprogrammed in these nine districts to support effective instructional practices.
6) Describe how schools will continue to provide assistance to the same populations served by programs for which waivers are requested
SES regulations require that these tutoring services are provided only to low income students in Title I schools in their third year or beyond of not making Annual Yearly Progress (AYP). Any low-income student in identified schools qualifies regardless of achievement. Funds are currently set aside from the total Title I budget to provide SES and School Choice only in these schools.
Funds now set aside for School Choice and SES will be utilized to provide additional school-level academic interventions for identified low-performing students in any Title I school.
7) Request review of the proposed waiver by the State educational agency and be accompanied by the comments, if any, of the State educational agency
The waiver request was provided to the Iowa Department of Education on June 26, 2014. Any comments from the Iowa Department of Education will be provided to the United States Department of Education by July 15, 2014.
8) Provide notice and information regarding the waiver request to the public in the manner that the LEA customarily provides similar notices and information to the public
Notice to the public regarding this waiver request has been provided to the public in each of the nine Iowa school districts through the customary method of posting on the school district’s website. Any comments resulting from these notices will be provided to the United States Department of Education by July 15, 2014.