ALBANY, N.Y. (WWTI) — The New York State Education Department is requesting more flexibility in the process for identifying schools needing improvement.

New York State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa announced on December 1 that a public comment period has opened on a proposed waiver request to the U.S. Department of Education. This proposal is related to state accountability requirements under the Every Students Success.

Currently, under certain provisions of the federal ESSA, NYSED is required to report school district data from the previous school year, which qualifies them for funding if they are identified as a school for improvement. NYSED is seeking to eliminate accountability indicator requirements to identify these schools as this designation in fall 2022 based on 2021-2022 school year results.

According to Commissioner Rosa and Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young Jr., this waiver is being proposed as schools are still being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,

“The Department is committed to determining the most appropriate timeline and manner for re-starting the ESSA accountability system,” Commissioner Rosa said in a press release. “In a year that tested the resolve and ingenuity of our educators, we continue to work with identified schools to provide support models that encourage growth. Stakeholders may rest assured that even if USDE approves a waiver, the critical work to support our schools will continue.”

“New York’s schools continue to feel the impact of the pandemic and the unprecedented circumstances it has caused,” Chancellor Young, Jr. added.

NYSED is also seeking the ability to use Title I School Improvement funds. This would support schools in Good Standing that were previously identified as at risk of becoming identified as a Targeted Support and Improvement School prior to the pandemic but were not identified due to pandemic-related disruptions to the accountability system. This is also included in the proposal to the USDE.

Before the proposal is sent to the USDE, NYSED is seeking feedback from state residents. Public comments will be accepted online through December 15.

Following the public comment period, and if the waiver is approved by the USDE, the Department will propose to the Board of Regent that it adopts amendments to Comminer’s Regulations.

Full text of the proposal can be found on the New York State Education Department website.