ESEA Waiver Coalition Letter

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Honorable Arne Duncan
Secretary of Education
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202

Dear Secretary Duncan:

We write to express our utmost concern that under the current Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waivers, state accountability systems are masking the academic performance of individual student groups, including students of color, low-income students, English-Language learners, and students with disabilities.  We strongly urge the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to correct course and ensure that in the next round of waiver renewals, states must make the achievement and attainment of each group of students count in ratings for all schools.  Moreover, underperformance for any groups of students must trigger meaningful supports and interventions.[i]

A recent analysis of data from new state systems shows that school rating systems do not account for the achievement and growth of individual groups of students in a meaningful way. A school with an “A” rating may only be academically preparing its white or affluent students, while African-American, Latino or low-income students are not seeing the same academic progress or achievement.  Moreover, 16 states and territories have received waivers but do not require interventions when individual student groups miss their graduation rate targets.

Our organizations, which advocate for groups of students that have historically been underserved by our nation’s education system, will stand up to ensure that these students matter. We have, unfortunately, returned to a time when schools are being sent the message that it is not important for all their students to reach their academic potential. It is critical for ED’s waiver renewal guidance to include strong policy regarding student subgroups, as this policy could be in place for up to four years and will set a precedent for the eventual reauthorization of ESEA. We are ready and prepared to work with you to make sure that school accountability systems account for and respond to the achievement and graduation of all student groups.

Sincerely,

 




[i] ED’s 2013 initial waiver renewal guidance issued on August 29, 2013 (paragraph 10), as well as guidance issued on March 5, 2013 (question C-48b), specifically required states to ensure that interventions are provided in Title I schools when one or more subgroups miss AMOs or graduation rate targets. Waiver renewal guidance must align with these policies asserted by ED.

 

Recent Policies

Nov 29 2017 Nine National Civil Rights Groups Urge Congress to Oppose Tax Bill Dear Members of Congress: On behalf of the National Urban League and the undersigned leaders of national civil rights organizations we write to urge rejection of the proposed tax legislation now before you. By giving huge tax cuts to wealthy Americans and profitable corporations—cuts that will... Read
Nov 20 2017 Civil Rights Organizations Urge DHS to Extend Temporary Protected Status to Haitian Nationals The Honorable Elaine C. Duke Acting Secretary U.S. Department of Homeland Security Washington, D.C. 20528 Dear Acting Secretary Duke, With the November 23, 2017 deadline for redesignation quickly approaching, we write to urge you to fully extend Haitian Nationals Temporary Protected Status... Read
Sep 22 2017 National Urban League Response to DOL on Overtime Final Rule Melissa Smith Director of the Division of Regulations, Legislation, and Interpretation Wage and Hour Division U.S. Department of Labor 200 Constitution Avenue N.W, Room S-3502 Washington, DC 20210 Re: RIN 1235-AA20, Comments in Response to Request for Information; Defining and Delimiting the... Read
Apr 10 2017 Fact Sheet to Oppose 2017 Congressional Cuts   FACT SHEET Oppose Judge Gorsuch for U.S. Supreme Court
Mar 30 2017 National Urban League Letter Opposing Confirmation of Judge Gorsuch Dear Senator:   As President and CEO of the National Urban League, I am writing to express our strong opposition to elevating Judge Neil Gorsuch as the next Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. I urge you to vote “no” on his confirmation and to hold Judge Gorsuch to a super-majority, 60-... Read