Arkansas Department of Education Division of Elementary and Secondary Education Input Sought on Proposed Waiver to Law that Limits Participation on Alternate Assessments

Memo Information

Memo Number
Memo Date
Memo Type
Learning Services
Regulatory Authority
34 C.F.R. §200.6(c)(2)
Response Required
Federal Programs; Superintendents; Assistant Superintendent; Principals; Test Coordinators; Teachers; Curriculum Coordinators; School Counselors; Techstart Coordinators or Contact Name

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Memo Text

The Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is seeking public comment on its request for a  waiver extension of 34 C.F.R. §200.6(c)(2), which limits the total number of students assessed in a subject area using an alternate assessment to no more than 1% of the total number of students assessed in the State. 

Arkansas requires that all students enrolled in traditional or open­ enrollment charter public schools K­-12 be assessed either without accommodations, with accommodations, or with an alternate assessment. Arkansas follows the federal participation requirement and, to date, has met or exceeded the federal guidelines set at 95% participation on statewide assessment. 

According to 34 C.F.R. §200.6(c)(4), “If a State anticipates that it will exceed the cap under paragraph (c)(2) of this section with respect to any subject for which assessments are administered under § 200.2(a)(1) in any school year, the State may request that the Secretary [of Education] waive the cap for the relevant subject, pursuant to section 8401 of the Act, for one year.” 

On March 20, 2020, DESE submitted a request to the U.S. Department of Education for a waiver of statewide assessment, accountability, and reporting requirements in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) for the 2019-2020 school year due to widespread school closures related to the novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).  On March 27, 2020, DESE’s request was approved.  Since there was no 2019-2020 testing data to report and final 2020-2021 testing data is not yet available, this waiver extension request will be based on 2018-2019 testing data and enrollment data from 2020-2021.

DESE plans to submit the waiver extension request to the U.S. Department of Education in the areas of English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science. The waiver extension request states that if spring 2021 testing data indicate that Arkansas administered the alternate assessment to more than one percent (1%) of the state’s students, DESE will collect alternate assessment data and request justification from districts that exceed the one percent threshold. Additionally DESE will address any disproportionality in the percentage of students taking the alternate assessment. 

The proposed waiver extension request will be available for review from Monday, May 3, 2021, to Wednesday, June 2, 2021, on the DESE Special Education Unit website under Curriculum and Assessment. A digital copy of the waiver request may be obtained by clicking on the link below or by emailing Robin Stripling at

Any individual or organization may submit written comments on the proposed waiver pursuant to 34 C.F.R.§200.6(c)(4).  Written comments will be accepted from Monday, May 3, 2021, to Wednesday, June 2, 2021.  Please email comments to Robin Stripling at


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