USED & White House
U.S. Department of Education Optional Template: Waiver Requests of Accountability, School Identification, and Reporting Requirements for School Year 2020-2021

March 8, 2021


Dear colleagues,


Please see the information below that was shared with chief state school officers earlier this morning.



Patrick Rooney, Director
School Support and Accountability


From: Honeysett, Adam <>
Sent: Monday, March 8, 2021 11:07 AM
Subject: U.S. Department of Education Optional Template: Waiver Requests of Accountability, School Identification, and Reporting Requirements for School Year 2020-2021


March 8, 2021


Dear Chief State School Officer:


Due to the continued extraordinary circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting impacts on students, educators, and schools, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) invited states on February 22, 2021, to request a waiver for the 2020-2021 school year of accountability, school identification, and related reporting requirements in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).


As discussed in the letter inviting these waiver requests, I am writing to provide the optional state waiver template (attached) to ensure an efficient process for requesting and reviewing these requests.  The optional template is also available here.  Consistent with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this optional template is posted for public comment on the information being collected.  A state may use this template while the Department is collecting public comment.


Prior to submitting a waiver request, ESEA section 8401(b)(3)(A) requires a state to provide the public and interested local educational agencies (LEAs) notice and a reasonable time for them to comment in the manner in which you customarily provide similar notice and opportunity, and to provide the Department a copy of comments received (if any) and a description of how the state addressed the comments.


Beyond the scope of these waivers, we also encourage states and LEAs to consider other steps within your purview to further reduce the stakes of assessments this year, such as excluding their use from students’ final grades, grade promotion decisions, educator evaluations, and local school ratings.


For assistance on this accountability waiver template, or to discuss assessment flexibility that a state may need based on the specific circumstances within the state, please contact


Thank you again for your continued commitment to students, educators, and schools during these extraordinary circumstances.






Ian Rosenblum
Delegated the Authority to Perform the Functions and Duties of the Assistant Secretary
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education




cc:       Governors

            State Title I Directors

            State Title III Directors

            State Special Education Directors

            State Assessment Directors

About the Author

Patrick Rooney is the Director of two offices--Evidence-Based Practices Assessment and Accountability and School Support and Accountability within ED’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. Before this recent appointment, Mr. Rooney was the Deputy Director of the Office of State Support.  Prior to joining the Office of State Support, Mr. Rooney worked in the Implementation and Support Unit, where he helped lead the work of the Reform Support Network, providing technical assistance to states implementing comprehensive Race to the Top reforms, and the Race to the Top Assessment program, which provided grants to groups of states to develop new assessments aligned to state’s college- and career-ready standards. Mr. Rooney also worked in the DC Office of State Superintendent of Education, where he was a senior policy advisor and worked on a wide variety of K-12 issues in the District of Columbia.