Date: October 25, 2012
The Honorable Jack Markell
Office of the Governor
State of Georgia
203 State Capitol
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
The Honorable Mark Murphy
Secretary of Education
Delaware Department of Education
John G. Townsend Building
401 Federal Street
Dover, Delaware 19901
Dear Governor Markell and Secretary Murphy:
We are writing in response to Delaware’s request to amend its approved Race to the Top grant project and approved Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) flexibility request. Between August 31 and October 19, 2012, the State submitted requests and held conversations with U.S. Department of Education (Department) staff in the Implementation and Support Unit (ISU) and Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) to support amendment requests to its approved Race to the Top plan and performance measures and approved ESEA flexibility request. These amendments will align the State’s Race to the Top grant project and approved ESEA flexibility request with respect to the student achievement targets as measured on the Statewide assessments required under the ESEA and the graduation rate targets required under 34 CFR §200.19.
As you are aware, the Department has the authority to approve amendments to your Race to the Top plan and budget, provided that such a change does not alter the scope or objectives of the approved proposal. To that end, the Department sent a letter and revised “Grant Amendment Submission Process” document on October 4, 2011 to Governors of grantee States indicating the process by which it would review and approve or deny Race to the Top amendments. To make a determination on such amendments, the Department applies the conditions noted in that document, and compares it with the Race to the Top program Principles, which are also included in that document. Similarly, the Department has the authority to approve amendments to a State’s approved ESEA flexibility request if it determines that the revised request continues to be consistent with principles of ESEA flexibility.
The first of two amendment requests that Delaware submitted solely impacts the State’s Race to the Top plan and performance measures. The Department approved Delaware’s request for ESEA flexibility on May 29, 2012. As part of its approved request, the State set targets -- annual measurable objectives (AMOs) -- for increasing student achievement. The State wishes to align its Race to the Top goals with its approved AMOs for school years 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, respectively. Based on conversations between the State and the Department in fall 2012, the Department approves the State’s request to revise its student outcome goals to align with those approved under ESEA flexibility. The State will amend its Race to the Top student achievement goals to align with those in its approved ESEA flexibility request. See Appendix 1 for the revised Race to the Top student achievement goals.
The second of two amendment requests that Delaware submitted impacts both the State’s Race to the Top plan and performance measures and the State’s approved ESEA flexibility request. The State initially requested to revise the graduation rate goals in its approved Race to the Top plan to align with those in its approved ESEA flexibility request. However, upon discussion with ISU and OESE staff, the State requested to amend the graduation rate goals in its approved ESEA flexibility request for four particular ESEA subgroups: 1) white students, 2) Asian students, 3) Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, and 4) multi-racial students and then implement these goals to meet requirements of both Race to the Top and ESEA flexibility.
In its approved ESEA flexibility request, the State used the baseline graduation rate of the “all students” subgroup to set a “floor” baseline for each of the four subgroups listed above (i.e., any subgroup with an actual baseline above the baseline of the “all students” subgroup). This inadvertently resulted in these subgroups being able to meet graduation rate targets below the current State graduation rate for these subgroups. As a result, the State requested to revise the respective baselines and targets for these four subgroups to reflect their actual baselines. Based on conversations between the State and the Department in fall 2012, the Department approves the State’s request to revise its graduation rate targets and goals for Race to the Top and targets for ESEA flexibility. The State will amend its Race to the Top targets and goals and ESEA flexibility graduation rate targets, respectively; as amended, these goals will be the same across programs. See Appendix 1 for the revised graduation rate goals and targets.
If you need any assistance or have any questions regarding Race to the Top, please do not hesitate to contact your Race to the Top program officers, at Shelley.Kahn@ed.gov, or at Meredith.Farace@ed.gov . If you need any assistance or have any questions regarding ESEA flexibility, please do not hesitate to contact your ESEA flexibility contact, at Victoria.Hammer@ed.gov. As is our practice with all Race to the Top and ESEA flexibility amendments, we will post this letter on the Department’s website on both the Race to the Top and ESEA flexibility web pages, respectively. Please refer to the Department’s website (http://www.ed.gov/esea/flexibility/requests) for Delaware’s original and amended ESEA flexibility requests.
Director, Policy and Program Implementation
Implementation and Support Unit
Deborah S. Delisle
Assistant Secretary, Office of
Elementary and Secondary Education
cc: Sara Kerr