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H.R. 800 (rh) To provide for education flexibility partnerships. [Reported in House] ...


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                                                        Calendar No. 37

106th CONGRESS

  1st Session

                               H. R. 800

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 AN ACT

           To provide for education flexibility partnerships.

_______________________________________________________________________

                             March 11, 1999

            Received; read twice and placed on the calendar
                                                        Calendar No. 37
106th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 800


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                             March 11, 1999

            Received; read twice and placed on the calendar

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 AN ACT


 
           To provide for education flexibility partnerships.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Education Flexibility Partnership 
Act of 1999''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress makes the following findings:
            (1) States differ substantially in demographics, in school 
        governance, and in school finance and funding. The 
        administrative and funding mechanisms that help schools in 1 
        State improve may not prove successful in other States.
            (2) Although the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 
        1965 and other Federal education statutes afford flexibility to 
        State and local educational agencies in implementing Federal 
        programs, certain requirements of Federal education statutes or 
        regulations may impede local efforts to reform and improve 
        education.
            (3) By granting waivers of certain statutory and regulatory 
        requirements, the Federal Government can remove impediments for 
        local educational agencies in implementing education reforms 
        and raising the achievement levels of all children.
            (4) State educational agencies are closer to local school 
        systems, implement statewide education reforms with both 
        Federal and State funds, and are responsible for maintaining 
        accountability for local activities consistent with State 
        standards and assessment systems. Therefore, State educational 
        agencies are often in the best position to align waivers of 
        Federal and State requirements with State and local 
        initiatives.
            (5) The Education Flexibility Partnership Demonstration Act 
        allows State educational agencies the flexibility to waive 
        certain Federal requirements, along with related State 
        requirements, but allows only 12 States to qualify for such 
        waivers.
            (6) Expansion of waiver authority will allow for the waiver 
        of statutory and regulatory requirements that impede 
        implementation of State and local educational improvement 
        plans, or that unnecessarily burden program administration, 
        while maintaining the intent and purposes of affected programs, 
        such as the important focus on improving math and science 
        performance under title II of the Elementary and Secondary 
        Education Act of 1965, (Dwight D. Eisenhower Professional 
        Development Program), and maintaining such fundamental 
        requirements as those relating to civil rights, educational 
        equity, and accountability.
            (7) To achieve the State goals for the education of 
        children in the State, the focus must be on results in raising 
        the achievement of all students, not process.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
            (1) Attendance area.--The term ``attendance area'' has the 
        meaning given the term ``school attendance area'' in section 
        1113(a)(2)(A) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 
        1965.
            (2) Ed-flex partnership state.--The term ``Ed-Flex 
        Partnership State'' means an eligible State designated by the 
        Secretary under section 4(a)(1)(B).
            (3) Local educational agency; state educational agency.--
        The terms ``local educational agency'' and ``State educational 
        agency'' have the meaning given such terms in section 14101 of 
        the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
            (4) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary 
        of Education.
            (5) State.--The term ``State'' means each of the 50 States, 
        the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and 
        each of the outlying areas.

SEC. 4. EDUCATION FLEXIBILITY PARTNERSHIP.

    (a) Education Flexibility Program.--
            (1) Program authorized.--
                    (A) In general.--The Secretary may carry out an 
                education flexibility program under which the Secretary 
                authorizes a State educational agency that serves an 
                eligible State to waive statutory or regulatory 
                requirements applicable to 1 or more programs or Acts 
                described in subsection (b), other than requirements 
                described in subsection (c), for the State educational 
                agency or any local educational agency or school within 
                the State.
                    (B) Designation.--The Secretary shall designate 
                each eligible State participating in the program 
                described in subparagraph (A) to be an Ed-Flex 
                Partnership State.
            (2) Eligible state.--For the purpose of this subsection the 
        term ``eligible State'' means a State that--
                    (A)(i) has--
                            (I) developed and implemented the 
                        challenging State content standards, 
                        challenging State student performance 
                        standards, and aligned assessments described in 
                        section 1111(b) of the Elementary and Secondary 
                        Education Act of 1965, and for which local 
                        educational agencies in the State are producing 
                        the individual school performance profiles 
                        required by section 1116(a) of such Act; or
                            (II) developed and implemented content 
                        standards and interim assessments and made 
                        substantial progress, as determined by the 
                        Secretary, toward developing and implementing 
                        performance standards and final aligned 
                        assessments, and toward having local 
                        educational agencies in the State produce the 
                        profiles, described in subclause (I); and
                    (ii) holds local educational agencies and schools 
                accountable for meeting the educational goals described 
                in the local applications submitted under paragraph 
                (4); and
                    (B) waives State statutory or regulatory 
                requirements relating to education while holding local 
                educational agencies or schools within the State that 
                are affected by such waivers accountable for the 
                performance of the students who are affected by such 
                waivers.
            (3) State application.--
                    (A) In general.--Each State educational agency 
                desiring to participate in the education flexibility 
                program under this section shall submit an application 
                to the Secretary at such time, in such manner, and 
                containing such information as the Secretary may 
                reasonably require. Each such application shall 
                demonstrate that the eligible State has adopted an 
                education flexibility plan for the State that 
                includes--
                            (i) a description of the process the State 
                        educational agency will use to evaluate 
                        applications from local educational agencies or 
                        schools requesting waivers of--
                                    (I) Federal statutory or regulatory 
                                requirements as described in paragraph 
                                (1)(A); and
                                    (II) State statutory or regulatory 
                                requirements relating to education; and
                            (ii) a detailed description of the State 
                        statutory and regulatory requirements relating 
                        to education that the State educational agency 
                        will waive;
                            (iii) a description of specific educational 
                        objectives the State intends to meet under such 
                        a plan;
                            (iv) a description of the process by which 
                        the State will measure the progress of local 
                        educational agencies in meeting specific goals 
                        described in subsection (a)(4)(A)(iii); and
                            (v) an assurance that, not less than 30 
                        days prior to waiving any Federal statutory or 
                        regulatory requirement, or in accordance with 
                        State law, the State educational agency shall 
                        give public notice in widely-read publications, 
                        such as large circulation newspapers and 
                        community newspapers, of its intent to grant 
                        such a waiver, a description of the Federal 
                        statutory or regulatory requirements that the 
                        State educational agency proposes to waive, any 
                        improved performance of students that is 
                        expected to result from the waiver, and the 
                        State official--
                                    (I) to whom comments on the 
                                proposed waiver may be sent by 
                                interested individuals and 
                                organizations; and
                                    (II) who will make all the comments 
                                received available for review by any 
                                member of the public.
                    (B) Approval and considerations.--The Secretary may 
                approve an application described in subparagraph (A) 
                only if the Secretary determines that such application 
                demonstrates substantial promise of assisting the State 
                educational agency and affected local educational 
                agencies and schools within such State in carrying out 
                comprehensive education reform, after considering--
                            (i) the comprehensiveness and quality of 
                        the education flexibility plan described in 
                        subparagraph (A);
                            (ii) the ability of such plan to ensure 
                        accountability for the activities and goals 
                        described in such plan;
                            (iii) the degree to which the State's 
                        objectives described in subparagraph (A)(iii)--
                                    (I) are specific and measurable; 
                                and
                                    (II) measure the performance of 
                                local educational agencies or schools 
                                and specific groups of students 
                                affected by waivers;
                            (iv) the significance of the State 
                        statutory or regulatory requirements relating 
                        to education that will be waived; and
                            (v) the quality of the State educational 
                        agency's process for approving applications for 
                        waivers of Federal statutory or regulatory 
                        requirements described in paragraph (1)(A) and 
                        for monitoring and evaluating the results of 
                        such waivers.
            (4) Local application.--
                    (A) In general.--Each local educational agency or 
                school requesting a waiver of a Federal statutory or 
                regulatory requirement described in paragraph (1)(A) 
                and any relevant State statutory or regulatory 
                requirement from a State educational agency shall 
                submit an application to the State educational agency 
                at such time, in such manner, and containing such 
                information as the State educational agency may 
                reasonably require. Each such application shall--
                            (i) indicate each Federal program affected 
                        and the statutory or regulatory requirement 
                        that will be waived;
                            (ii) describe the purposes and overall 
                        expected results of waiving each such 
                        requirement;
                            (iii) describe, for each school year, 
                        specific, measurable, educational goals for 
                        each local educational agency, school, and 
                        group of students affected by the proposed 
                        waiver;
                            (iv) explain why the waiver will assist the 
                        local educational agency or school in meeting 
                        such goals; and
                            (v) provide an assurance that, not less 
                        than 30 days prior to submitting the 
                        application to the State educational agency for 
                        a waiver under this section, or in accordance 
                        with State law, the local educational agency or 
                        school shall give public notice in widely-read 
                        publications, such as large circulation 
                        newspapers and community newspapers, of its 
                        intent to request the waiver, a description of 
                        the Federal statutory or regulatory 
                        requirements that will be waived, any improved 
                        performance of students that is expected to 
                        result from the waiver, and the name and 
                        address of the local educational agency 
                        official--
                                    (I) to whom comments on the 
                                proposed waiver may be sent by 
                                interested individuals and 
                                organizations; and
                                    (II) who will make all the comments 
                                received available for review by any 
                                member of the public.
                    (B) Evaluation of applications.--A State 
                educational agency shall evaluate an application 
                submitted under subparagraph (A) in accordance with the 
                State's education flexibility plan described in 
                paragraph (3)(A).
                    (C) Approval.--A State educational agency shall not 
                approve an application for a waiver under this 
                paragraph unless--
                            (i) the local educational agency or school 
                        requesting such waiver has developed a local 
                        reform plan that is applicable to such agency 

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