Arkansas Department of Education Division of Elementary and Secondary Education 2020 ESSA Waiver from Assessment, Accountability, and Reporting

Memo Information

Memo Number
Memo Date
Memo Type
Public School Accountability
Regulatory Authority
Response Required
Federal Programs; Superintendents; Assistant Superintendent; Principals; Technology Coordinators; Test Coordinators; General Business Managers; Teachers; Gifted & Talented Coordinators; Curriculum Coordinators; Bookkeepers; School Counselors; Equity Coordinators (Disability/Race/Gender/National Origin); Child Nutrition Directors/Managers; Data Stewards (SIS; eSchool; eFinance; TRIAND); District Coordinators (ALE; Homeless; ESOL; SDFS & Foster); Parent Involvement Coordinators/Facilitators

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Memo Text

On March 23, 2020, The Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) requested a waiver from the U. S. Department of Education for 2020 assessment, accountability, and reporting (letter requesting waiver).  The waiver was tentatively approved  (3/23/2020) with a formal approval from the U.S. Department of Education expected in the next few weeks. 


The waiver addresses four (4) key points:

  • 2020 State assessment
  • 2020 Accountability (ESSA School Index)
  • 2020 Reporting (School Report Card)
  • Identification and Support of Schools in Need of Support (CSI, ATS, and TSI)


On Friday, March 20, 2020, during Governor Asa Hutchinson’s COVID-19 press conference, Secretary Key announced that the state would not test students on the ACT Aspire, DLM, or K-2 assessments in spring of 2020.  The above-mentioned waiver grants the state permission to waive testing students on the state assessments in 2020 and also waives accountability and reporting requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), as noted specifically in the letter requesting the waiver.


Regarding identification of schools, this waiver request specifically asked for the following to be waived: 


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.


In seeking the waiver, the State assured that any school that was identified for comprehensive or targeted support and improvement or additional targeted support and improvement in the 2019-2020 school year will maintain that identification status in the 2020-2021 school year and continue to receive supports and interventions consistent with the school’s improvement plan and the district’s support plan in the 2020-2021 school year. In other words, identifications for federal support designations will be held constant and no school will be able to exit from support based on 2020 data.  A waiver of the above provision means that schools which are currently identified as needing comprehensive, targeted, and/or additional targeted support will continue to be identified as such. The DESE district support team will continue to provide support to identified districts and schools.


Identified schools will continue to receive 1003 funds.  The complete list of allocations is posted on the DESE website at


Learn more about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).


Please submit public comments regarding the waiver to

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