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U.S. Department of Education Approves ESEA Flexibility Renewal for New Hampshire

The U.S. Department of Education (USED) has approved a request from New Hampshire to receive continued flexibility from certain provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). In all, 42 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have received flexibility from the burdens of the existing law in order to support improved achievement in schools. All states up for renewal have submitted a request to extend their flexibility, and Nebraska requested a waiver from the law for the first time ever.

NH has put forth a comprehensive reform plan that collectively moves us toward the goal of providing every student with a high quality education that prepares them for college and career. It is designed to improve educational outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, increase equity, and improve the quality of instruction.

“We are implementing a comprehensive, collaboratively designed plan to ensure student success and a continued commitment to college and career readiness for every student, said Commissioner of Education, Virginia M. Barry, Ph.D. “These new systems build on the effective parts of NCLB to protect our most underserved students, and will help to deliver on our promise of high achievement for all students.”

“The last six years have seen dramatic progress for America’s school children. The high school dropout rate is down, and graduation rates are higher than they have ever been,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “As a result of our partnerships with state and district leaders to couple flexibility with reform, we are seeing remarkable strides and bold actions to improve student outcomes. States, districts, principals and teachers are showing incredible creativity in using different means to achieve the same goal—getting every student in America college- and career-ready.”

Since this flexibility was first granted in 2013, the USED has partnered with state and district leaders to provide relief from some provisions of NCLB in exchange for taking bold actions to improve student outcomes and ensure equity for all students. Under NCLB, schools were given many ways to fail but very few opportunities to succeed. The law forced schools and districts into one-size-fits-all solutions, regardless of the individual needs and circumstances in those communities.

States need a new round of waivers to provide ongoing flexibility from top-down, prescriptive provisions of the law so that they can continue implementing innovative changes that ensure all children receive a high-quality education. These renewals provide states with stability as they continue to work on preparing all students for success in college, careers and life.

New Hampshire Highlights:

  • The New Hampshire Department of Education (NHDOE) has aligned its long-standing student-level data system—Initiatives for School Empowerment and Excellence—with its vision for a robust, multiple-measure data system that provides timely and reliable school and student data to teachers, administrators, parents and the community. By providing user-friendly data in a more timely fashion, stakeholders are empowered to make informed decisions that improve educational outcomes for students.
  • NHDOE has developed an online New Hampshire Network to provide educators throughout the state an opportunity to learn from each other by sharing success stories, and by seeking advice from their colleagues on how to handle challenges. NHDOE gathers information on the utility and ease of the network, regularly gathers feedback from users and consistently makes iterative improvements to increase the usability and usefulness of this online network.
  • In collaboration with its school district leadership, the NHDOE spent the last year researching the impact of using the College Board SAT for its high school statewide assessment requirement. Through this work, it was determined that students and parents would greatly benefit from this one-day, rigorous assessment to better understand if a student is ready to continue their educational aspirations. New Hampshire will implement the SAT for this purpose in the spring of 2016.
  • The NHDOE has included the Performance Assessment of Competency Education (PACE) pilot in its waiver, as approved by Assistant Secretary Deborah Delisle on March 5, 2015. The pilot is a two year study with a limited number of districts of a system of assessments that provides greater responsibility for accountability to the local level, while continuing to assure technical quality of assessments, comparability of results, and fairness for all students.

In the event that Congress reauthorizes ESEA, the USED will work with states to help them transition to the new law. Duncan has called on Congress to create a bipartisan ESEA law that:

  • Gives teachers and principals the resources they need, and invests in districts and states to create innovative new solutions to increase student outcomes;
  • Makes real investments in high-poverty schools and districts, and in expanding high-quality preschool;
  • Holds high expectations for all students, and requires that where groups of students or schools are not making progress, there will be an action plan for change;
  • Identifies schools that are consistently not making progress and dedicates extra resources and support, including in the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools that are struggling year after year;
  • Addresses funding inequities for schools that serve high proportions of low-income students.

The renewal letters are available on the ESEA flexibility page ( New Hampshire's ESEA Flexibility Waiver Renewal can be found at

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New Hampshire Department of Education
101 Pleasant Street | Concord, NH | 03301-3494
Telephone: (603) 271-3494 | TDD Access: Relay NH 711