The objective of our inspection was to determine whether the Department appropriately approved requests for alternate assessment waivers and waiver extensions for School Year (SY) 2021–2022.
We found that the Department generally appropriately approved 21 of 22 requests for alternate assessment waivers and waiver extensions for SY 2021–2022. One request should only have been partially approved because it included a subject for which a waiver should not have been granted since prior year assessment participation rates were not met. While we noted that some requests did not fully meet all applicable requirements, we found that the related deviations were minor, the Department's rationale for concluding requirements were met, when provided, was reasonable, or we did not believe the deviations rose to a level that would warrant disapproval of the requests. We identified areas where the Department could strengthen its process, to include providing sufficient clarification and guidance to the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) Office of School Support and Accountability (SSA) Assessment Team staff performing the reviews on what constitutes acceptable State responses to certain requirements and how to adequately document determinations when exercising professional judgment so that a clear basis for the determination is provided. This would provide for greater consistency and less subjectivity in its treatment of State waiver requests.
We recommend that the Assistant Secretary for OESE ensure that SSA develops, finalizes, and implements written guidance and review procedures for staff involved in reviewing and approving alternate assessment waiver and waiver extension requests to strengthen its process and provide for greater consistency and less subjectivity.
Oversight and Monitoring of Grantees
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