ESEA Flexibility / Reauthorization

The window has closed in this Congress for any re-write of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Committee staff in both the House and Senate continue to meet on the key issues but fundamental differences remain on school improvement interventions, setting proficiency standards and time-lines, quality  measures for teachers, SES, and balancing local flexibility with federal mandates.

ESEA Waivers:

With Congressional action stalled, the U.S. Department of Education announced in September, 2011 an unprecedented, sweeping set of administrative changes to NCLB that mirror the Obama Administration’s ESEA Blue Print first proposed in March, 2010. The Department indicated it proposed these changes in the absence of Congressional action on ESEA reauthorization and pressure from some States and local superintendents for relief from NCLB requirements, especially requirements pertaining to school accountability measures and improvement strategies.

To date (July, 2012) the USDE announced that 26 States were granted waivers. Read the details at:

Iowa, denied an NCLB waiver, has a different kind of reprieve from the U.S. Department of Education: the chance to freeze its Annual Measurable Outcomes (goals for student proficiency) for a year while it works towards waiver approval. The department also released Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, and West Virginia from their AMOs for the coming year while they work on waiver plans. The option is intended to give states a "transition year," so they're not hamstrung by NCLB as they work on their early-fall deadline. This has spared Alabama, Alaska, Maine, and West Virginia. States already with a waiver application can apply for the freeze as a kind of safeguard, if their waiver didn't arrive for the start of the school year, as Idaho and Kansas have done. There are currently no other AMO-freeze waiver applications pending, but states can still apply. In order to do so, states must demonstrate seriousness regarding the department's conditional waivers, and must already have certain conditions in place. For instance, they must adopt college- and career-ready standards, make data about student-achievement gaps public, and share data about student growth with teachers.

A full recap and analysis of where SES may or may not be implemented in the 2012-2013 school  year is found in the Member's Only page accessed by EIA members in good standing.

CA has submitted its own unique waiver request to USDE but it is hard to see how the feds would create a special circumstance for CA that it did not offer to the rest of the Governors.

TX has indicated that it will not seek a waiver from the USDE.

PA, originally indicating they will not pursue a waiver, has now said they will submit an application by the September, 2012 deadline.

Read EIA's Feb. 9, 2012 Statement on USDE Decision on 10 of the First 11 Applications.

To support EIA's direct advocacy with States on their waiver applications, please join the SES Coalition. Read the SES Coalition Agreement here.

 USDOE Flexibility Documents:

To track all USDE developments on waivers, go to :

EIA Actions on Waivers:

We are communicating with State chiefs on waiver language, modeled on the Tutoring for our Children Act reference above, with the goal of incorporating program elements in the waiver application that may preserve a tutoring option for Title I students. More recently, EIA met with two assistant secretaries are the USDE to support the right of states (like FL and others) to enact their own policies and legislation that retains/improves SES. To buttress our arguments, the NASBE and CCSSO communicated directly with the USDE reinforcing the rights of states to use their flexibility as they deem so.

These are sweeping proposals and EIA's analysis of the USDE waiver plan is summarized here.

Tutoring for Children Act

Late in Sept., 2011, Senator John McCain introduced S. 1570, to provide for high-quality academic tutoring for low-income students, and for other purposes. A similar bill has been introduced in the House by Congressman "Buck" McKeon, with Democratic co-sponsor Rob Andrews (D-NJ) along with subcommittee chair Duncan Hunter (R-CA). This bill addresses many of the criticisms of SES and is supported by advocates of after-school tutoring including EIA.  It provides an important marker in the eventual ESEA reauthorization process. And States, as they prepare their waiver applications (see below) , are encouraged to include provisions of the Bill. Read a summary of the McCain Bill here.

Read EIA's Draft Recommendations to States to Improve Tutoring

Read EIA's 10-1-11 Media Statement on Flexibility here

EIA's presentation at the October 25, 2011 Webinar on Waivers with osSES

Follow-up Q-A from Oct. 25th webinar

Listen to the Oct. 25th webinar here:


To prepare for the reauthorization of ESEA, EIA adopted general legislative principles for the Administration and Congress. The industry’s comments span after-school tutoring interventions, charter school management, alternative and special education and school turn- interventions.Read EIA ESEA Legislative Principles here.

 The USDE’s Blueprint for Re-authorization was released March, 2010 .


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