Missouri has received a one-year extension for flexibility from certain provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the U.S. Department of Education announced today. The extension runs through the 2014-15 school year.
“This is great news for Missouri and its school districts,” said Commissioner of Education Chris Nicastro. “It is important that states direct their own accountability systems setting ambitious goals and focusing on continuous improvement.”
The waiver allows Missouri to use its own accountability system to more effectively identify struggling schools, to efficiently direct resources to struggling schools and to recognize schools achieving exemplary results. The waiver also gives school districts flexibility with their Title I funding.
ESEA, currently known as No Child Left Behind, has been due for Congressional reauthorization since 2007. Without reauthorization, waivers have been granted from parts of the law to qualified states, in exchange for state-developed plans designed to improve educational outcomes for all students.
ESEA flexibility has been effective in allowing Missouri to carry out important reforms that have improved student achievement and quality of instruction. Examples include:
- School-based data teams that focus on collaborative decision making. These teams meet regularly to analyze and discuss student progress in English language arts and math, as measured by performance on formative assessments, and share best instructional practices.
- The Missouri Leadership for Excellence, Achievement and Development (MoLEAD) program, which focuses on enhancing the leadership skills of principals and district staff. Training began in January 2013 and continues to focus on developing systemic processes for sustained school improvement, empowering instructional leadership teams, building collaborative learning and decision-making cultures and coaching teachers on the use of outcome data to drive instructional improvements.
Progress in these areas places Missouri closer to achieving the goals in the Top 10 by 20 initiative, which calls for Missouri to be one of the top 10 performing states in the country by 2020.