Sneak Preview: Accurate Information Required for ESEA Waivers

February 13, 2015 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xsass_bookshot(The following was excerpted from an article in the Single Audit Information Service.) State educational agencies (SEAs) submitting renewals this spring for provision waivers under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 (Pub. L. 107-110), must ensure that the information they submit is accurate, reliable and complete, in response to a recent Department of Education (ED) Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit recommendation.

After NCLB amended ESEA, ED established a process through agency regulation whereby an SEA, tribal government, tribal educational agency or local educational agency (LEA) could submit a waiver from some of the law’s provisions provided that certain standards would be maintained. More than 40 SEAs have requested and received such waivers, which are designed to increase program flexibility. To receive a waiver, SEAs were required to develop comprehensive plans for improving student educational outcomes, closing achievement gaps, increasing equity and improving the quality of instruction. SEAs also must submit various documents to ED’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) for approval demonstrating that they adhere to their comprehensive plans, and that they met the following four required flexibility principles:

  • develop college and career-ready expectations for all students;
  • identify priority schools and Title I schools in the state and establish accountability and support systems for these schools;
  • support effective instruction and leadership; and
  • reduce duplicative, unnecessary and burdensome reporting requirements.

In its audit, OIG praised OESE’s use of extensive monitoring procedures to ensure that SEAs comply with waiver provisions. These procedures included conducting desk and on-site reviews, providing technical support to the SEAs and offering input to the Office of Management and Budget when updating the 2013 OMB Circular A-133 Compliance Supplement (now the OMB Compliance Supplement under the uniform grant guidance) to include guidance to external auditors for ensuring compliance with approved ESEA flexibility requests.

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time on Thompson’s Grants Compliance Expert site).

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