Office of Accountability

New York's ESEA Flexibility

Flexibility under ESEA for New York State

On July 31, 2014, the United States Department of Education (USDE) approved New York’s request for a one-year extension of flexibility under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended, so that New York may continue to implement ESEA flexibility through the end of the 2014-15 school year. Please click here for New York's amended ESEA Flexibility Waiver Request.

On August 7, 2014, Commissioner John King sent a letter thanking the USDE for the opportunity to continue the activities described under the waiver, and re-submitting amendments related to students with disabilities and English language learner (ELL) assessment and accountability. Additionally, the Commissioner also submitted a new amendment request pertaining to Career and Technical Education assessments. Please click here for Commissioner King’s letter.

Please click here for the amendments that were submitted.



In September 2011, President Obama announced an Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) regulatory flexibility initiative, which is based upon the Secretary of Education’s authority to issue waivers, pursuant to section 9401 of the ESEA. According to the United States Department of Education (USDE), "This flexibility rewards States that are showing the courage to raise their expectations in their academic standards."

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) submitted its ESEA Flexibility Request to the USDE on February 28, 2012.  On May 29, 2012, NYSED received approval from the USDE for its flexibility waiver request. The key changes that the waiver permits, allow the State to implement its next generation accountability system.  These changes further align the Board of Regents Reform Agenda with the accountability system in New York State, and include:

  • Revising the Annual Measurable Objective (AMO) timeframe by which schools and districts are expected to ensure that all students are proficient in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics and make the goals more realistic and attainable.
  • Using standards on Regents exams in ELA and mathematics that are better aligned to college- and career- readiness to hold schools and districts accountable.
  • Discontinuing the identification of schools for improvement, corrective action and restructuring and instead identify Priority and Focus Schools.
  • Identifying Focus Districts as a means to ensure that districts take dramatic actions in support of schools where performance of disaggregated groups of students is among the lowest in the State and not showing progress.
  • Replacing the current ESEA system of supports and interventions in identified schools and districts with one that better builds the capacity of districts to assist schools to implement transformation and turnaround.
  • Using both proficiency and growth measures to make accountability determinations at the elementary and middle school levels.
  • Creating a single diagnostic tool ("The Diagnostic Tool for School and District Effectiveness") to be used throughout the school and district improvement continuum to drive supports and interventions.
  • Reframing the existing set-asides in ESEA to support enhanced implementation of the Regents' Reform Agenda in Priority and Focus Schools, expanded learning time opportunities for students, and increased parental involvement and engagement.
  • Giving districts more flexibility in use of Federal funding as required as a condition of waiver approval.

The Department will continue to provide regular communication to schools, districts and stakeholders about the implementation of the provisions of the waiver; and will facilitate webinars on the primary changes within the waiver and their implications for schools and districts.  Please check Announcements to subscribe for notification of upcoming webinar dates and times.

Last Updated: August 15, 2014