University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Arkansas ‘Waives’ Goodbye to NCLB Provisions

In The View from the OEP on August 15, 2012 at 11:54 am

On June 29th, 2012, theUS Department of Education (USDE) announced that it had approved Arkansas’ ESEA waiver request. Here, at the OEP, we read the 158-page ESEA Flexibility Request and summarized the major points into a 6-page policy brief that explains the major changes from the previous NCLB system, how the new accountability labels are calculated, and what the consequences are.

Here are the major points we cover in the brief:

Major Changes from NCLB

  1. The NCLB subgroups will be replaced by a Targeted Achievement Gap Group (TAGG), a super subgroup that includes English Learners, Economically-Disadvantaged students, and Students with Disabilities.
  2. It is no longer required that 100% of students be proficient by 2014; rather, schools and districts will be rated based on the improvements made from year to year in the % of students reaching proficiency and the % of students making adequate annual growth.

Accountability Labels

  • In addition to identifying Exemplary Schools, there are 5 accountability labels* under the new system:
    • Achieving- 3-year ACSIP (Arkansas Comprehensive School Improvement Plan),
    • Achieving- 1-year ACSIP
    • Needs Improvement
    • Needs Improvement-Focus
    • Needs Improvement- Priority
  • Achieving-3-year, Achieving-1-year, and Needs Improvement designations are based on a school’s performance on its Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs).
  • Schools are expected to make improvements from current performance levels toward the target of 100% student proficiency, student growth, and graduation rates for All Students and TAGG.  These Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) specify the levels schools should be reaching each year in order to achieve these goals by 2017.
  • The Exemplary designation is given to the top schools in four categories: high performance, high TAGG populations with high performance, high progress, and high TAGG populations with high progress.

The graph below details how each accountability label is determined:

click table to enlarge


There are consequences for schools that do not reach their targeted goals. Among those consequences:

  • Achieving-3-Year ACSIP and Achieving-1-Year-ACSIP will have to submit ACSIPs every three years and one year, respectively. Districts with Achieving schools will enjoy high autonomy.
  • Needs Improvement schools will also have to submit annual ACSIPs and will experience low to moderate intervention from the ADE depending on a school’s needs. Similarly, districts with Needs Improvement schools will enjoy only moderate district autonomy, with the amount of district intervention differentiated based on the progress made and the persistence of gaps.
  • Needs Improvement-Focus schools are required to diagnose elements that are not serving TAGG students and establish a Targeted Improvement Plan (TIP) aligned to the needs of TAGG students. The district will be required to allocate sufficient funds to support the implementation of the interventions. Persistent lack of progress will result in the application of any or all turnaround principles at the school level, including replacing school leadership or teachers.
  • Needs Improvement-Priority schools will be required to work with an external School Improvement provider to make progress on a 3-year Priority Improvement Plan (PIP). A continued lack of progress can lead to district academic distress (pending a change of the definition of “academic distress” by the Board of Education.) Districts that remain in “academic distress” for two years are subject to state takeovers.

Want to read more about the new accountability system under the ESEA Waivers? Click here to read the detailed OEP Policy Brief on the ESEA Waiver approval.

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