Public Comment on Federal Testing and Accountability Waiver Request

Raleigh, NC

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) is seeking public comment on a March 23, 2020, submitted waiver from some of the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA State Plan). As required under ESSA, the waiver must be made available to the public for review and comment for 30 days.

Due to the extraordinary circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting school closures, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is providing flexibility to all States regarding the assessment and accountability requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the ESSA. It is noted that statewide accountability systems rely on fair, reliable, and valid assessment results, and without such assessment administrations, States will not be able to annually meaningfully differentiate among public schools or identify schools for support and improvement, as required under section 1111(c)(4) and 1111(d)(2)(C)-(D) of the ESEA. Thus, pursuant to Secretary DeVos’ authority under section 8401(b) of the ESEA, States may request a waiver, for the 2019–2020 school year, of the assessment requirements in section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA, the accountability and school identification requirements in sections 1111(c)(4) and 1111(d)(2)(C)-(D), and certain reporting requirements related to assessments and accountability in section 1111(h).

The waiver includes the following:

  • Assessment requirements in section 1111(b)(2): the requirements to administer all required assessments in school year 2019-2020.
  • Accountability and school identification requirements in sections 1111(c)(4) and 1111(d)(2)(C)-(D): the requirements that a State annually meaningfully differentiate all public schools and the requirements to identify schools for comprehensive and targeted support and improvement and additional targeted support and improvement based on data from the 2019–2020 school year.
  • Report card provisions related to certain assessments and accountability in section 1111(h) based on data from the 2019–2020 school year, namely:
    • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(i) (accountability system description).
    • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(ii) (assessment results).
    • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(iii)(I) (other academic indicator results).
    • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(iv) (English language proficiency assessment results).
    • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(v) (school quality or student success indicator results).
    • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(vi) (progress toward meeting long-terms goals and measurements of interim progress).
    • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(vii) (percentage of students assessed and not assessed).
    • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(xi) (number and percentage of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities taking an alternate assessment).
    • Section 1111(h)(2)(C) with respect to all waived requirements in section 1111(h)(1)(C) as well as 1111(h)(2)(C)(i)-(ii) (information showing how students in a local educational agency (LEA) and each school, respectively, achieved on the academic assessments compared to students in the State and LEA).

In submitting the waiver, the State affirms the following two assurances:

  • Any school that is identified for comprehensive or targeted support and improvement or additional targeted support and improvement in the 2019–20 school year will maintain that identification status in the 2020-21 school year and continue to receive supports and interventions consistent with the school’s support and improvement plan in the 2020–21 school year.
  • The State educational agency will provide the public and all LEAs in the State with notice of and the opportunity to comment on this request (e.g., by posting information regarding the waiver request and the process for commenting, on the State website)

Interested persons may submit their written comments by April 24, 2020 via email to:

Tammy Howard
Accountability Services Division

or by U.S. Mail to:

Tammy Howard
Accountability Services Division
NC Department of Public Instruction
6307 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-6307


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