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​​​​​​​​​​​​Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

Submitted to USDE: Funding Flexibilities Waiver Request

Following a public comment period and pursuant to section 8401 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, PDE submitted a waiver request to the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) on July 29, 2021, to secure various funding and programmatic flexibilities for Pennsylvania local education agencies. Funding Flexibilities Waiver Request submitted to USDE (PDF). On August 25, 2021, the USDE approved PDE's Funding Flexibilities waiver request ​(PDF), providing PDE and its stakeholders with flexibility on the timelines and carryover limitations associated with various funds.

Accountability Determinations and ESEA Flexibility

Following receipt of public comment, PDE submitted a Accountability Determinations and ESEA Flexibility waiver request to USDE (PDF) on March 23, 2021, to shift forward timelines for designating schools for Comprehensive Support and Improvement, Additional Targeted Support and Improvement, and Targeted Support and Improvement under the Every Student Succeeds Act; maintain existing school accountability determinations; and secure relief from Federal assessment participation rate rules. On March 26, 2021, the USDE approved PDE’s Accountability Determinations and ESEA Flexibility waiver request (PDF), creating flexibility and providing PDE and its stakeholders important space to revise components of Pennsylvania's accountability system with attention to comparability, feasibility, and validity.

2022 ESSA Accountability Addendum

PDE submitted the 2022 ESSA Accountability Addendum (PDF), which USED approved, in response to USDE's call for an Accountability Addendum notifying USDE we will not incorporate academic achievement data from the 2020-2021 school year into multi-year averages used for improvement designation. In making this minor adjustment, PDE will fulfill our commitment to exclude the use of 2019-20 and 2020-21 assessment data from the school improvement designation process. This modification:

  • maintains the basic framework of the plan to which so many of you contributed;
  • and maximizes the prospects for valid and defensible designations despite significant data quality limitations.

2022 ESSA Accountability Amendment

USDE has been consistent that states must resume the school improvement designations that have been paused since 2019. Given the disruptions of the past two years, including the cancellation of statewide assessments in the 2019-20 school year and historic interruptions during last year's test administration, Pennsylvania's current Federal school improvement must be adjusted long-term to account for the pandemic pause. USDE has acknowledged that virtually every state faces this challenge.

Accordingly, PDE has drafted permanent amendments to Pennsylvania's ESSA State Plan (PDF) to address the lasting impacts imparted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These adjustments, which must also be reviewed and approved by USDE, include:

  • Section 1 – Long Term Goals
    • Extended goals by 3 years to offset pandemic and add an entire round of CSI/A-TSI
  • Section 4 - Accountability, Support, and Improvement
    • Move start of aggregate student group for schools with small low performing ethnicity populations to 2022
    • Annual Meaningful Differentiation waiver pause/resume
    • AMD cycle will use data available consistent with waivers
    • Updated exit criteria that school needs to exceed cut points for original designation
  • Appendix: Measurements of interim progress
    • Updated goal charts

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns in response to this letter, please submit those to