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Archived FedPro Message

SUBJECT:  Notice of Request for Comments on Missouri SIG Waivers

ListServ Message Date:  Feb. 18, 2010

 

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is currently seeking comments on our intent to request waivers regarding the following Title I, Part A, Section 1003 (g) School Improvement Grant provisions and requirements. Information on the grant application is available at: http://www.ed.gov/programs/sif/applicant.html .

By February 22, 2010, please send comments to webreplyimprfii@dese.mo.gov .

Waiver Request 1:  Expand the pool from which Tier II schools are selected:

Missouri intends  to request a waiver of the definition of “persistently lowest-achieving schools” contained in section I.A.3 of the final requirements for the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program (74 FR 65618 (Dec. 10, 2009)) and incorporation of that definition in identifying Tier II schools under section I.A.1(b) of the final requirements, as amended (75 FR 3375 (Jan. 21, 2010)).  Specifically, I am requesting a waiver of paragraph (a)(2) of the definition of “persistently lowest-achieving schools” to permit Missouri to include, in the pool of secondary schools from which it determines those that are the persistently lowest-achieving schools in the State, secondary schools participating under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that have not made adequate yearly progress (AYP) for at least two consecutive years or are in the State’s lowest quintile of performance based on proficiency rates on the State’s assessments in reading/language arts and mathematics combined.  Missouri needs this waiver in order to capture, among its persistently lowest-achieving Tier II secondary schools, Title I secondary schools that are lower achieving than one or more Tier II schools but do not qualify as Tier II schools because they are receiving Title I, Part A funds and do not qualify as Tier I schools because they are not among the lowest-achieving five percent of such schools (or lowest achieving five such schools) in the State.  Any Title I secondary school that is identified, through this waiver, as being among the persistently lowest-achieving schools in the State would be identified by Missouri as one of the State’s Tier II schools.  Concomitantly, this waiver would permit any local educational agency (LEA) with one of these schools that Missouri identifies as a Tier II school to apply to the State to use SIG funds to implement in the school one of the school intervention models set forth in the SIG final requirements.

Missouri believes that this waiver will increase the quality of instruction for students and improve the academic achievement of students in the Title I secondary schools that would be identified as persistently lowest-achieving Tier II schools and, therefore, would be eligible to receive SIG funds in order to implement one of the school intervention models in the SIG final requirements.  Those models will help us turn around our State’s persistently lowest-achieving schools in order to raise student achievement substantially in those schools.

Missouri assures that, if it is granted this waiver, it will include in the pool of schools from which it identifies its Tier II schools all Title I secondary schools not already identified in Tier I that either (1) have not made AYP for at least two consecutive years; or (2) are in the State’s lowest quintile of performance based on proficiency rates on the State’s assessments in reading/language arts and mathematics combined.  Within that pool, Missouri assures that it will identify as Tier II schools the persistently lowest-achieving schools in accordance with its approved definition.  Missouri is enclosing the list of schools and their level of achievement (as determined under paragraph (b) of the definition of “persistently lowest-achieving schools”) that would be identified as Tier II schools without the waiver and those that would be identified with the waiver.  

Missouri assures that it will ensure that any LEA that chooses to use SIG funds in a Title I secondary school that becomes an eligible Tier II school based on this waiver will comply with the SIG final requirements for serving that school.

Waiver Request 2:  Consider a “minimum n” of 30 for selecting Tier I and Tier II schools

Missouri intends to request a waiver of the definition of “persistently lowest-achieving schools” contained in section I.A.3 of the final requirements for the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program (74 FR 65618 (Dec. 10, 2009)) and the use of that definition in section I.A.1(a) and (b) of those final requirements, as amended (75 FR 3375 (Dec. 21, 2010)).  Specifically, I am requesting permission for Missouri to exclude, from the pool of schools from which it identifies the persistently lowest-achieving schools for Tier I and Tier II, any school in which the total number of students in the “all students” group in the grades assessed [who were enrolled in the school for a full academic year as that term is defined in Missouri’s Accountability Workbook] is less than 30.  In summary, Missouri needs this waiver in order to ensure that the identification of a school is both valid and reliable based on a minimum number of students and does not reveal personally identifiable information about individual students in the school.

Missouri believes that this waiver will ensure the validity and reliability of Missouri’s identification of schools as well as protect the privacy of individual students in very small schools.  For Missouri’s identified Tier I and Tier II schools, the SIG program will improve the quality of instruction for students and improve the academic achievement of students.  Specifically, implementing one of the four school intervention models in our Tier I and Tier II schools will help us turn around our State’s persistently lowest-achieving schools in order to improve instruction and raise student achievement substantially in those schools.  By identifying schools below the “minimum n” as Tier III schools, Missouri will enable its LEAs to serve, as appropriate, these schools with SIG funds.

Missouri assures that it determined whether it needs to identify five percent of schools or five schools in each tier prior to excluding small schools below its “minimum n.”  Missouri is enclosing, and will post on its Web site, a list of the schools in each tier that it will exclude under this waiver and the number of students in each school on which that determination is based.  Missouri will include its “minimum n” in its definition of “persistently lowest-achieving schools.”  In addition, Missouri will include, in its list of Tier III schools, any schools excluded from the pool of schools from which it identified the persistently lowest-achieving schools, so that LEAs may choose to serve those schools with SIG funds consistent with the final requirements.

Larry Flakne, Director

Federal Instructional Improvement

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Phone:  (573) 751-8284

E-mail:  larry.flakne@dese.mo.gov