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Waiving ESSA Requirements

From time to time, because of unique circumstances, waiving certain requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) may help local education agencies (LEAs) and schools carry out educational reforms, raise achievement levels, and better meet the needs of all students. The U.S. Department of Education has granted DPI the authority to waive a wide range of requirements in such cases, under the federal Education Flexibility Program (Ed-Flex).

LEAs may want to keep the possibility of a waiver request in mind as they plan for the year.

How to Request a Waiver for Your LEA

  1. Make sure the requirement you want to waive has not already been waived. For reference: 
  2. Make sure the requirement can be waived (a list of requirements that can’t be waived is below).
  3. Make sure your waiver request aligns with Wisconsin’s ESSA State Plan and your LEA’s ESSA Plan. Waivers must align with both plans (a list of these goals/objectives is below).
  4. Get approval from your school board to request the waiver.
  5. Send a written request to DPI at Include the following:
    • The ESSA requirement you want waived
    • The rationale for the waiver, including a clear description of:
    • how it will aid reforms and raise achievement levels
    • how it is aligned with the ESSA State Plan and your LEA’s ESSA Plan
    • School board minutes documenting approval of the proposed waiver request

DPI staff will approve or deny your request within thirty days. If you have questions or need other assistance, ask your DPI Title I consultant. Contact information is in the Consultant Directory.

Requirements That Can’t Be Waived

  • Distribution of funds to LEAs
  • Standards, assessments, and accountability requirements under section 1111
  • Maintenance of effort
  • Comparability of services
  • Equitable participation of students and professional staff in private schools
  • Parental participation and involvement
  • Supplement, not supplant, requirements
  • Civil rights requirements
  • The selection of a school attendance area or school under subsections 1113(a) and (b) (unless its percentage of children from low-income families is not more than ten points below that of the lowest-percentage attendance area or school meeting 1113(a) and (b) requirements)

ESSA State/LEA Plan Goals and Objectives for Alignment

Waiver requests must align with the following:

  • Wisconsin’s Goals: 
    1. Reduce the achievement gap by half for each subgroup within eight years.
    2. Reduce the graduation gap by half within eight years.
    3. Achieve an 18-point increase in the percentage of students on-track to English language proficiency by the end of eight years. 
  • Objective 1: LEAs will provide every student access to a well-rounded education that meets their learning needs in an appropriate, healthy, and safe environment.
  • Objective 2: LEAs will provide professional growth and improvement opportunities for all teachers, principals, and other school leaders to further a high quality education for all students.
  • Objective 3: LEAs will use evidence-based interventions and support services to ensure every student graduates from high school prepared for their college or career plans.
  • Objective 4: LEAs will make progress on closing the achievement gap for all subgroups in English language arts, and math so all students meet challenging academic standards.