July 7, 2006
The Honorable T. Kenneth James
Arkansas Department of Education
Four State Capitol Mall, Room 304 A
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201-1071
Dear Director James:
I am writing in response to Arkansas'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 requested changes that are aligned with NCLB are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Arkansas submitted to the Department on June 20, 2006. The changes are listed in an attachment to this letter. I am pleased to approve Arkansas's amended accountability plan, which we will post on the Department's website.
As you know, any additional requests to amend the Arkansas accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I. Please note that approval of Arkansas's accountability plan does not constitute approval of the State's standards and assessment system.
Please also be aware that approval of Arkansas'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.
NCLB has provided a vehicle for States to raise the achievement of all students and to close the achievement gap. We are seeing the results of our combined endeavor; achievement is rising throughout the nation. I appreciate Arkansas's efforts to raise the achievement of all students and hold all schools accountable. I wish you continued success in your school improvement efforts. If you need any additional assistance in your efforts to implement the standards, assessments, and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Catherine Freeman (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Grace Ross (email@example.com) of my staff.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Governor Mike Huckabee
Amendments to the Arkansas Accountability Plan
The following is a summary of the State's approved amendments. Please refer to the Department's website (refer to: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for the complete Arkansas accountability plan.
Starting points, annual measurable objectives and intermediate goals (Elements 3.2a, 3.2b, 3.2c)
Revision: Arkansas has identified starting points and annual measurable objectives that identify for each year a minimum percentage of students who must meet or exceed the proficient level of academic achievement on the State's academic assessments.
The State's annual measurable objectives ensure that all students meet or exceed the State's proficient level of academic achievement by 2013-14 and are the same throughout the State for each public school, each local educational agency (LEA) and each subgroup of students. Annual measurable objectives were set for elementary, middle and high school reading and mathematics assessments.
Arkansas has determined intermediate goals that increase in equal increments annually for each grade span and subject.
|Increase per year||7.50||8.96||8.85||7.20||8.10||8.06|
Subgroup Accountability: Creating a separate subgroup for hurricane evacuees (Element 5.1)
Revision: For the 2005-2006 school year, the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) will establish a separate subgroup for displaced students. This subgroup would include students relocated to the State due to Hurricanes Katrina and/or Rita. These students will participate in the State assessment program and count toward the 95% requirement. The students would only appear in this subgroup for NCLB reporting and accountability purposes and not in any other subgroup to which they would usually belong. A special coding for displaced students was added in the Arkansas Public School Computer Network (ASPCN) reporting system. APSCN reports that 2200 displaced students are currently enrolled in Arkansas public schools. In addition, a one-time code for displaced students was added to the assessment answer documents. The ADE is well equipped to track each student relocated to the State due to this exceptional circumstance.
The Secretary granted this waiver and the conditions for approval can be found in the May 19th letter to Arkansas (http://hurricanehelpforschools.gov/letters/052606-arkansas.pdf).Amendments Submitted March 30th, 2005
Full academic year (Element 2.4)
Revision: The definition of full academic year will be continuous enrollment from October 1 through the test date.
High school graduation rate (Elements 5.3 and 7.1)
Revision: Students with disabilities who are following an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and have not completed graduation requirements after the traditional four years may be counted as a high school graduate for adequate yearly progress purposes if, during the fifth or sixth year consistent with the students' IEP, the students meet graduation requirements for a regular diploma.