Washington, DC - Building on the significant progress seen in America's schools over the last six years, the U.S. Department of Education announced today that the six districts that comprise the California Office to Reform Education (CORE) have been approved to continue implementing a set of waivers of certain provisions of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) for one year and are no longer designated as high risk status.
"The last six years have seen dramatic progress for America's school children. The high school dropout rate is down, and graduation rates are higher than they have ever been," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "As a result of our partnerships with state and district leaders to couple flexibility with reform, we are seeing remarkable strides and bold actions to improve student outcomes. States, districts, principals and teachers are showing incredible creativity in using different means to achieve the same goal—getting every student in America college- and career-ready."
The CORE districts – Fresno Unified, Long Beach Unified, Los Angeles Unified, Oakland Unified, San Francisco Unified, and Santa Ana Unified – were first approved to implement these waivers in August 2013, in exchange for locally developed plans to prepare all students for college and career, focusing aid on the neediest students, and supporting effective teaching and leadership. In fall 2014, the CORE districts were designated high-risk because they had not met the conditions on their waivers and because of proposed changes to their waiver requests. Since then, the CORE districts have resolved issues related to teacher and principal evaluation and support systems, and addressed problems with their accountability system. The districts have continued to work with the Department to resolve all monitoring findings and have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to continuous improvement. For those reasons, the Department is removing CORE's high risk status designation and renewing CORE's waiver requests through the 2015-16 school year. Together the CORE districts serve over 1 million students—more than most states.
The CORE districts have used their ESEA waiver to commit to and engage in annual peer-to-peer review of waiver implementation at the district level, creating new, innovative district-to-district accountability for sharing promising practices and improving achievement in low-performing schools. Additional information about CORE's waivers can be found here.