ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) previously NCLB

Letter from Dr. Mitchell

Changes to the No Child Left Behind Act Announced

On June 29, 2012, Missouri received a waiver of certain No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements. The purpose of this letter is to describe the educational opportunities made possible by the waiver, and to help you understand what the waiver will mean for you and your child.

The most important change is that Missouri will now use its own state-designed system of accountability eliminating a dual system of classification and reports under the federal and state systems. The state system will give parents, students, teachers and families a more accurate report on the success of their child's school. With NCLB, a school either did or did not meet adequate yearly progress (AYP), resulting in an accountability system that did not distinguish among the lowest performing schools and schools that needed help in only one or two areas.

The flexibility approval allows Missouri to implement an aligned accountability and support system that requires real change in the lowest performing schools; promotes locally-designed solutions based on individual school needs; and recognizes schools for success. When schools are identified, families will know that school and district leaders will adopt targeted and focused strategies for the students most at risk or in need of support and intervention.

Through the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP), a school's annual performance report (APR) provides a more complete and comprehensive picture of where a school or district is meeting performance expectations and where it is not. Using 2011 - 2012 school year assessment and graduation rate data, a percentage of schools will be identified as reward, priority, or focus schools.

  • Reward school - Missouri will recognize reward schools throughout the state as models of excellence. Recognition will be based on measures of high achievement for all students and those schools that are making significant progress in closing the achievement gap.
  • Priority school - Priority schools are among the lowest-performing schools in the state when considering the school's overall student population. If a school is not demonstrating the expected outcomes for students, the Department will intervene with rapid and targeted interventions. The intervention system includes tools and strategies to build capacity at the local level for district-focused school improvement.
  • Focus school - Focus schools are Title 1 schools whose student gap groups are among the lowest-performing in the state according to state assessment results. Interventions and support will assist identified schools in improving the performance of all students with a particular focus on improving the performance of groups of students that have the greatest achievement gap.

These new school designations will provide a deeper understanding of what resources schools need in order to be successful in their efforts to prepare students to be college- and career-ready.

Obtaining the ESEA waiver is an important step for Missouri as it works to achieve its Top 10 by 20 Plan. The plan calls for Missouri to rank in the top 10 states nationwide in academic achievement by the year 2020.

If you have additional questions about the waiver, please visit the DESE website for more information at:


Ron Mitchell