- In a FAQ document provided to states, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education said any school with the status of comprehensive support and improvement, targeted support and improvement, or additional targeted support and improvement in the 2019-20 school year will keep that identification status in the 2020-21 school year.
- However, schools identified as CSI based on their graduation rates may exit based on improved 2019-20 rates. But regardless of the data, states can choose to have those schools maintain their CSI status for the 2020-21 school year.
- According to a plan addendum template provided, states can also move their identification and measurements of interim progress timelines by one year and continue to provide funds for districts previously identified as needing supports.
While there seems to be consensus among testing and accountability system experts that schools will need additional and continued support this year, there is a split over whether high-stakes aspects such as state report cards, statewide assessments and school identification should continue for the 2020-21 school year.
State leaders have previously suggested keeping such information from the public, but continuing to share school performance data with district leaders to inform their funding decisions.
The Department of Education is providing flexibilities for certain accountability and school identification requirements, but it maintained that "assessment, accountability, school identification, and reporting requirements under Title I are not waived for the 2020-21 school year." Statewide assessments and state report cards, the document said, must continue this school year.
However, it is possible that assessment and accountability flexibilities released by the Education Department under the Trump administration may change under President Joe Biden's term.
Those familiar with Miguel Cardona, Biden's nominee for Education Secretary, say he is "pro-data," and assessment advocates have said assessments are key in gathering data about where students have — or haven't — made progress in their learning.
Cardona also has "very strong background on advocating for the elimination of achievement gaps," according to Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), which could potentially translate to greater scrutiny of states' plans for lower-achieving schools.
"The secretary of education, the Department of Education, will decide whether or not state plans are credible plans in terms of eliminating the achievement gap, whether or not progress is being made, whether or not assessments are appropriate and whether that process is working," Scott said during a meeting with press members of Education Writers Association on Feb. 2. He is chair of the House Labor and Education Committee.
For months, states have been grappling with changed indicators such as absenteeism, graduate and assessment data while they rethink key parts of their systems. Testing and accountability experts have previously said that the reimagining of these systems could be the first domino in a series of long-term changes affecting districts. Not only could changed systems impact school designations and growth timelines, including changes that the Ed Department suggested, but also to state goals, trajectories and baselines.