April 6, 2009
The Honorable Joseph B. Morton
State Superintendent of Education
Alabama Department of Education
P.O. Box 302101
Montgomery, AL 36130-2101
Dear Superintendent Morton:
On behalf of Secretary Duncan, I want to thank you for your hard work in implementing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). As you may know, the Secretary will be traveling the country and listening to states, districts, and other stakeholders talk about the ways in which the ESEA can be improved. These conversations will inform the next reauthorization of the statute. In the meantime, we will push towards our reform goals under the authority of, and in accordance with, the existing statute and regulations.
Specifically, I am writing in response to Alabama’s request to amend its state accountability plan under Title I of the ESEA. Following discussions between the Department and your staff, you made a change to Alabama’s accountability plan, which is now included in the amended state accountability plan that Alabama submitted to the Department on March 10, 2009. I am pleased to approve Alabama’s amended plan, which we will post on the Department’s website. A summary of Alabama’s requested amendment 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 amendment 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 the ESEA, please do not hesitate to contact Victoria Hammer (Victoria.Hammer@ed.gov) or Valeria Ford (Valeria.Ford@ed.gov) of my staff.
Joseph C. Conaty
cc: Governor Bob Riley
Amendments to Alabama's Accountability Plan
The following is a summary of Alabama’s amendment request. Please refer to the Department’s website (http:www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for Alabama’s complete accountability plan.
Acceptable amendmentThe following amendment is aligned with the statute and regulations:
Including students with disabilities in adequate yearly progress (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 2008–09 school year. If a school misses AYP solely on the basis of students with disabilities, a proxy of students with disabilities equivalent to 2.0 percent of all students assessed will be added to the actual percentage of students with disabilities in the school that were proficient or advanced. Alabama will then use this adjusted percent proficient to re-examine whether the school or district made AYP for the 2008–09 school year. The actual percentage proficient will be reported to parents and the public.