Office of Accountability

New York's ESEA Flexibility

Flexibility under ESEA for New York State

On November 13, 2014, the United States Department of Education (USDE) issued new guidance for states with approved ESEA Flexibility Waivers describing how states could apply for a three- or four-year renewal of their approved Flexibility Waivers.  States such as New York that were identified by the USDE as having fully implemented the USDE’s Flexibility Waiver requirements regarding teacher and principal evaluations were notified that they had the option of applying for a four-year renewal, covering the 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 school years.  Under this process, states with approved waivers may submit amendments to the state’s approved plan to take effect during the waiver period, as part of the renewal process.  The state must consult with stakeholders regarding its draft ESEA Renewal Request and any amendments before submitting its flexibility renewal request.  A copy of New York State’s approved ESEA Flexibility Waiver can be found on the New York State Education Department’s (NYSED or “the Department”) website at:

At the February 2015 Board of Regents meeting, the Department presented for consideration proposed revisions and amendments to New York’s approved ESEA Waiver.  Members of the Board of Regents asked the Department to consider their questions along with any comments received from the public as the Department prepares a final ESEA Renewal Request for the United States Department of Education.  The questions asked by the Board of Regents during the February 2015 meeting can be found here:

Board of Regents Questions about the ESEA Waiver Renewal

The Board of Regents also directed the Department to post the draft ESEA Renewal Request for public comment beginning on February 13 and ending on February 26, 2015. To view the PowerPoint presented to the Board of Regents at the February meeting, which summarizes the revisions made to the Renewal Request, please see: February PowerPoint Presentation

To read a nine page executive summary of the proposed revisions and amendments, please see: ESEA Waiver Renewal Executive Summary

To review the complete 240 page redline version of the ESEA Renewal Waiver with attachments, please see:

ESEA Flexibility Renewal Redline 02 13 15


To review the ESEA Renewal Waiver and attachments without redline edits, please see:

ESEA Flexibility Renewal 02 13 15


Following review of public comment, the Department will submit a final draft waiver renewal request with related amendments for action by the Regents in March 2015.  If approved by the Board of Regents, the Department will submit New York’s application for renewal of its ESEA Waiver for the 2015-16 through 2018-19 school years to the USDE no later than March 31, 2015.

If you would like to submit comments regarding the draft renewal application or the amendments, please submit your comments by email to    Please identify in the subject line the topic(s) and/or the amendment(s) on which you wish to comment.   For example, if you would like to comment on the revisions to the Priority School methodology for identification, please include “Public Comment on Priority School Identification” in the subject line of your e-mail.  If you wish to comment on the proposed amendment pertaining to testing of English language learners, then please include "Public Comment on Amendment 1" in the subject line of your e-mail.   Finally, if you wish to make multiple comments, then please include the topic(s) and/or amendments in the subject line of your e-mail (ex: "Public Comments on Priority School Identification and Amendment 1”).

Comments may also be submitted to Dr. Lisa Long, Supervisor, Office of Accountability, 55 Hanson Place, Room 445, Brooklyn, NY 11217.  Please indicate “ESEA Waiver Public Comment” on the outside of the envelope. Comments must be received by Thursday, February 26, 2015.



July 2014

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.


September 2011

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: March 17, 2015