February 12, 2008
The Honorable Barbara Thompson
Interim Commissioner of Education
Alaska Department of Education & Early Development
801 West Tenth Street, Suite 200
Juneau, Alaska 99801-1894
Dear Commissioner Thompson:I am writing in response to Alaska's request to amend its State accountability plan under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Following our discussions with your staff, the changes are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Alaska submitted to the Department on December 13, 2007. I am pleased to fully approve Alaska's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website. A summary of the approved amendments is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend the Alaska accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I.
Please also be aware that approval of Alaska's accountability plan for Title I, including the amendments approved above, does not indicate that the plan complies with Federal civil rights requirements, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
I am confident that Alaska will continue to advance its efforts to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. If you need any additional assistance to implement the standards, assessment, and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Abigail Potts (Abigail.Potts@ed.gov) or Sharon Hall (Sharon.Hall@ed.gov) of my staff.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Sarah Palin
Amendments to the Alaska Accountability Plan
The following is a summary of the state's amendment requests. Please refer to the Department's website (www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for the complete Alaska accountability plan.
We have reviewed your request to amend the Alaska accountability plan and found the following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations.
Including students with disabilities in adequate yearly progress (AYP) (Element 5.3)
Revision: Alaska will include students who were formerly classified as students with disabilities in that subgroup for two additional years for purposes of calculating AYP.
Revision: Alaska will remove the flexibility for including certain students with disabilities in calculating AYP, the "proxy method" (option 1 in our guidance dated December 2005), from its accountability workbook.
Graduation rate (Element 7.1)
Revision: For schools below the minimum group size of 25, Alaska will employ the following two methods when calculating graduation rate:
- Allow the aggregation of the graduation cohort over two consecutive years until the cohort reaches the state's minimum group size.
- If insufficient data are not available, the Alaska Department of Education will review and evaluate the trend in graduation rates over the past four consecutive years, including the current year. If the graduation rate has increased over the past four years, the school will be counted as meeting the graduation rate by making progress towards the graduation rate target.