June 10, 2008
The Honorable Joseph B. Morton
State Superintendent of Education
Alabama Department of Education
P.O. Box 302101
Montgomery, AL 36130-2101
Dear Superintendent Morton:
I am writing in response to Alabama'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 discussions between the Department and your staff, you made certain changes to Alabama's accountability plan, which are now included in the amended state accountability plan that Alabama submitted to the Department on January 15, 2008. I am pleased to approve Alabama's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website. A summary of Alabama's requested amendments is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend Alabama's accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I of the ESEA.
Please also be aware that approval of Alabama's accountability plan for Title I, including the amendments approved herein, 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 Alabama 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 Leighann Lenti (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Valeria Ford (Valeria.Ford@ed.gov) of my staff.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Bob Riley
Amendments to Alabama's Accountability Plan
The following is a summary of Alabama's amendment requests. Please refer to the Department's website (www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for Alabama's complete accountability plan.
The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations:
Including students with disabilities in AYP determinations (Element 5.3)
Revision: Alabama will use the "proxy method" (option 1 in our guidance dated December 2005) to take advantage of the transition flexibility offered by the Department pursuant to its authority under 34 C.F.R. § 200.20(g) (see (http://www.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/modachieve-summary.html) for calculating AYP for the students with disabilities subgroup for the 2007-08 school year. If a school misses AYP solely on the basis of students with disabilities, a proxy that is equivalent to 2.0 percent of all students tested will be added to the percentage of students with disabilities in the school that were proficient. Alabama will use this adjusted percent proficient to re-examine whether the school or district made AYP for the 2007-08 school year. The actual percentage proficient will be reported to parents and the public.
Including limited English proficient students (Element 5.4)
Revision: Alabama will change its definition of recently arrived limited English proficient (LEP) students from students in their "first academic year of enrollment" to students in their "first twelve months" in schools in the United States. Alabama will also delete part of a statement that is no longer applicable regarding the development of its English language proficiency assessment, the ACCESS, as the ACCESS assessment for LEP students has been fully developed.
Science assessments (Element 6.1)
Revision: Alabama clarifies that it is administering science assessments in grades 5, 7, and 11 during the 2007-08 school year.
Please note that approval of this amendment does not constitute approval of Alabama's science assessments and, in approving this amendment, the Department expresses no opinion on the sufficiency of Alabama's science assessments. The science assessments will be reviewed through the standards and assessment peer review process that is separate and distinct from the amendment approval process.