Mississippi’s ESEA Flexibility Request


Update September 30, 2015:

The US Department of Education (ED) recently provided clarification on guidance released on February 27, 2015.  The correspondence addressed information regarding transitions that are occurring in many States to a new reading/language arts and mathematics assessments in 2014−2015 school year.  

As in Mississippi, a majority of States implemented new reading/language arts and mathematics assessments in spring 2015 and ED has provided guidance on transition issues related to our assessment and accountability systems.  During the ESEA flexibility renewal process, the ED permitted any State administering new assessments aligned to college and career ready standards in the 2014−2015 school year to not assign schools new ratings based on those assessments under Title I. However, States are still required to report publicly the results of the assessments, including annual measurable objectives (AMOs), but the States may assign the same school ratings and permit its schools and districts to continue the same interventions that were being used in the 2014−2015 school year. The State would resume annually assigning schools a new rating based on the 2015−2016 assessments. Mississippi has applied and received this accountability pause for statewide accountability; therefore, as in 2014, Mississippi will run the accountability model, but schools and districts will keep the higher rating of the 2014 or 2015 models.

Similarly, this guidance clarifies that Mississippi may permit districts receiving Title III subgrants to continue the same sanctions in 2015–2016 that they used in the 2014–2015 school year for districts that do not meet the AMO component of annual measurable achievement objective (AMAO) 3 for 2014−2015.  This action is permitted due to the transition to a new English Language Proficiency Test. Specifically: Mississippi must continue to hold school districts receiving Title III subgrants accountable for meeting Title III AMAO 3.  

       The MDE recognizes this continuation of sanctions will allow districts and schools the space necessary to prepare for implementation of the new EL assessment.  Therefore, we are moving forward to take advantage of the opportunity afforded through this waiver.   To request this waiver, the MDE must meet the consultation requirements outlined in ESEA Section 9401(b) that include: 

  • Providing all interested school districts in the State with notice and a reasonable opportunity to comment on the request;
  • Submitting the comments to the Secretary; and
  • Providing notice and information to the public regarding the waiver request in the manner in which the applying agency customarily provides similar notices and information to the public.
This correspondence is MDE’s official notice.  The agency is soliciting feedback and comments on the impact of this request. Please send all comments to with the subject of “Title III AMAO 3 Waiver Request Public Comment” by close of business October 30, 2015.

On March 31, 2015, the Mississippi Department of Education submitted a three-year renewal request, revising Mississippi’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Flexibility Request.

 To receive renewal, states must describe their plans to meet core principles in four major areas:
1. College- and career-ready expectations for all students
2. Differentiated recognition, accountability, and support systems for schools and districts
3. Supporting effective instruction and leadership
4. Reducing duplication and unnecessary burden

ED approved Mississippi’s request on Thursday, August 6, 2015.
ESEA Flexibility Renewal (Approved 08/06/15) and ED Approval Letter 

The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) submitted Mississippi’s ESEA Flexibility (Waiver) Extension Request to the United States Department of Education (ED) on February 25, 2014. After a thorough review process, MDE’s Extension Request was approved by ED on July 19, 2012. This extension reflects the State Board-approved single statewide accountability system.
ESEA Flexibility Extension (Approved 08/14/14) and ED Approval Letter 

The MDE submitted the following amendments to submitted Mississippi’s ESEA Flexibility (Waiver) Request:
Educator Evaluation Amendment (Submitted 09/12/14) and ED Approval Letter (06/24/15)
Field Testing Amendment (Approved 1/30/14) and ED Approval Letter
Educator Evaluation Amendment (Approved 12/03/13) and ED partial Approval Letter 

In November 2013, Mississippi received approval of the Accountability Addendum to the ESEA Flexibility Request, which provides comprehensive information regarding Mississippi’s system of recognition, accountability, and support.
Accountability Addendum (Approved 11/13/13) and ED Approval Letter 

In July 2012, a second peer review process considered only Principle 3: Educator Evaluation. After considerable opportunities for feedback and review, Mississippi received final approval of Principle 3 on April 23, 2013.
Approved Request, after Principle 3 Review (approved 4/23/13) and ED Approval Letter 

The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) submitted Mississippi’s ESEA Flexibility (Waiver) Request to the United States Department of Education (ED) on February 24, 2012. After a multi-tiered peer review process, MDE’s Request was approved by ED on July 19, 2012. The Mississippi State Board of Education approved the final Request on July 20, 2012, for implementation in schools beginning with the 2012-2013 School Year.   
Approved Request (approved July 19, 2012) and Attachments
Approval Letter from ED (July 19, 2012) and Highlights of Mississippi’s Request  

Please note the US Department of Education also posts all the approved Mississippi ESEA Flexibility documents and monitoring reports on the website. 

MS SOARS Follow-Up Presentation, 10/18/12
MS SOARS Follow-Up Webinar, 10/18/12
Mississippi Schools Obtaining Academic Results for Success (SOARS) Training Manual, September 2012 
ESEA Flexibility FAQ for Families
ESEA Flex FAQ for Educators
Template, Focus Notification, Elementary and Middle Schools
Template, Focus Notification, High Schools
Template, Priority Notification, Elementary and Middle Schools
Template, Priority Notification, High Schools 

Federal Differentiated Accountability Reports, August 15, 2012
Federal Differentiated Accountability System, August 9, 2012
ESEA Flexibility: SBE Final Approval Presentation, July 19, 2012ESEA Flexibility: Overview Presentation, June 19, 2012
ESEA Flexibility: Overview Presentation, March 19, 2012
ESEA Flexibility: Differentiated Accountability Regional Training, September 2012 

Updated September 30, 2015

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