Below are the top general waiver questions. View the entire list of general questions in PDF format.
- Has the state of Missouri received an ESEA Flexibility Waiver?
- Why did Missouri apply for a waiver?
- When will the waiver go into effect?
- What flexibility does the waiver give Missouri?
- How long will the waiver be in effect?
- What does the waiver mean for students, teachers, parents and families?
- Who reviewed Missouri's waiver application?
- Why wasn’t Missouri approved with the first group of round two states?
- How will the waiver affect the standards/expectations of a child’s academic achievements?
- What are the main points addressed in the waiver?
- Now that the waiver has been awarded, what are the next steps?
Has the state of Missouri received an ESEA Flexibility Waiver?
Yes, the U.S. Department of Education approved Missouri's ESEA waiver on June 29, 2012, which gives Missouri a single, state-led accountability system for identifying high-performing and struggling schools.
Missouri was one of 36 other states and the District of Columbia that have applied for flexibility regarding some specific requirements of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. Waiver approval allows Missouri to focus on its state-created system of school improvement, the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP). The state now has more autonomy in guiding improvement efforts in its schools by establishing ambitious, yet attainable, goals for schools.
When will the waiver go into effect?
The waiver will go into effect immediately for the 2012-2013 school year. There will be some implementation steps and assurances that will phase in during the upcoming school year and subsequent years thereafter.
What flexibility does the waiver give Missouri?
The waiver allows Missouri to use one aligned system of accountability for school districts. Since 2002, Missouri schools and districts have been held accountable to both the state’s Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) and the requirements of NCLB. Implementing these dual systems simultaneously has generated confusion for schools and the public, especially when reports from each system produce conflicting results. Without the waiver, the percentage of Missouri schools failing to meet a crucial goal under NCLB was expected to increase from the already troubling 2011 results of 87.6 percent.
By implementing an aligned accountability system through the flexibility of the ESEA waiver, Missouri can identify local education agencies (LEAs) in need of improvement and better utilize resources directed at improvement. The state can then provide appropriate support and interventions to help schools meet expectations.
How long will the waiver be in effect?
Missouri’s waiver will take effect for the 2012-2013 school year and remain in place for three years. At that point, the state may request an extension of the waiver. Once Congress passes the next reauthorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) the reauthorized law would take priority over Missouri’s waiver.
What does the waiver mean for students, teachers, parents and families?
Under this flexibility, students, teachers, parents and families will get a more accurate report on the success of their child’s school. With NCLB, a school either did or did not meet adequate yearly progress (AYP), resulting in an accountability system that did not differentiate among the lowest performing schools and schools that needed help in only one or a few areas.
Through MSIP, a school's annual performance report (APR) provides a more complete and comprehensive picture of where a school or district is meeting performance expectations and where it is not. Using 2011 – 2012 school year assessment and graduation rate data, a percentage of schools will be identified as reward, priority, or focus schools. These new school designations will provide a deeper understanding of what resources schools need in order to be successful in their efforts to prepare students to be college- and career-ready. This flexibility allows Missouri to implement an aligned accountability and support system that requires real change in the lowest performing schools, promotes locally-designed solutions based on individual school needs, and recognizes schools for success. When schools are identified, families will know that school and district leaders will adopt targeted and focused strategies for the students most at risk or in need of support and intervention.
Who reviewed Missouri's waiver application?
Missouri's initial application was submitted February 24, 2012. A panel of six peer reviewers at the U.S. Department of Education examined the application and requested further clarification on areas as needed.
Why wasn’t Missouri approved with the first group of round two states?
As part of the waiver application process, the U.S. Department of Education wants to ensure that all students would be supported under one state system of accountability. The Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) has a 20-year history of setting high standards for our students. Missouri's program was unfamiliar to the U.S. Department of Education; therefore, Missouri needed to provide further explanation and clarification of its system. It’s important to note that MSIP 5 and the Educator Evaluation System pilot have been in the works for several years – long before applying for the waiver.
How will the waiver affect the standards/expectations of a child’s academic achievements?
Nothing in the waiver changes the state’s approach to rigorous academic standards. Statewide standards will remain in place. The state has changed the way it will measure each school's ability to help students meet those standards. The primary goal is to ensure all students exit Missouri's K-12 systems college- and career- ready.
- Principle 1: College and career-ready expectations for all students.
- Principle 2: State-developed differentiated recognition, accountability and support.
- Principle 3: Supporting effective instruction and leadership.
Here is an overview of Missouri's ESEA waiver principles:
- Principle 1
- Implements college- and career-ready standards for reading/language arts and mathematics in schools statewide.
- Develops and administers annual, statewide, aligned, high-quality assessments that measure student growth.
- Principle 2
- Creates one aligned system of accountability, reducing duplication and making more effective and efficient use of resources throughout the state.
- Provides more accurate identification of buildings in need of school supports. As a result, more efforts can be spent on supports and determining which buildings truly need intervention.
- Principle 3
- Provides greater flexibility at a local level to allow better focus on improving student learning and increasing the quality of instruction in Missouri schools.
- Improves the effective educational practices and the professional development of teachers, principals and superintendents. Missouri will hold educators accountable for continuous improvement.
Now that the waiver has been awarded, what are the next steps?
Missouri will begin by implementing strategies for improved student achievement for ALL students. The fifth cycle of the Missouri School Improvement Program, or MSIP 5, will guide schools, helping them identify areas for focused improvement. Title 1 schools will be identified as a reward, priority or focus school. A list of those schools will be released in the fall when 2012 data is available.
- Reward school - Missouri will recognize reward schools throughout the state as models of excellence. Recognition will be based on measures of high achievement for all students and those schools that are making significant progress in closing the achievement gap.
- Priority school - Priority schools are among the lowest-performing schools in the state when considering the school’s overall student population. If a school is not demonstrating the expected outcomes for students, the Department will intervene with rapid and targeted interventions. The intervention system includes tools and strategies to build capacity at the local level for district-focused school improvement.
- Focus school - Focus schools are Title 1 schools whose Student Gap Groups are among the lowest-performing in the state according to state assessment results. Interventions and support will assist identified schools in improving the performance of all students, with a particular focus on improving the performance of groups of students that have the greatest achievement gap.