June 26, 2008
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' 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 your state accountability plan, which are now included in the amended state accountability plan that Arkansas submitted to the Department on June 23, 2008. I am pleased to fully approve Arkansas' amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website. A summary of the amendments submitted for the 2007-08 school year is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend Arkansas' 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 Arkansas' 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 Arkansas will continue to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. I wish you well in your school improvement efforts. If you need any additional assistance in implementing the standards, assessment and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Jessica Morffi (Jessica.Morffi@ed.gov) or Grace Ross (Grace.Ross@ed.gov) of my staff.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Mike Beebe
Amendments to the Arkansas 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 Arkansas' complete accountability plan.
The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations.
Limited English proficient students (Element 5.4)
Revision: Arkansas clarifies exit criteria for limited English proficient students as follows: the student must score Level 5 (ELDA) in all five domains of the spring English Language Proficiency Assessment (ELPA); must earn a grade of C or above in all core subject areas; must score Proficient or Advanced on the state criterion-referenced test (CRT, either the Arkansas Benchmark or End of Course Exam) or score at or above the 40th percentile on the norm-referenced test (NRT); and at least two current teachers recommend exit or reclassification based on the criteria above. These criteria have been reviewed by the Office of English Language Acquisition and found to be appropriate.
Definition of a new school (Element 10.2)
Revision: Arkansas amends its new school definition to clarify that new school status may only be applied one time during a three-year period.
Use of growth model at the district level (Element 10.2)
Revision: Arkansas clarifies that its growth model is used to determine AYP at the district level as well as at the school level.