October 21, 2010
The Honorable Tom Kimbrell
Commissioner of Education
Arkansas Department of Education
4 Capitol Mall
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
Dear Commissioner Kimbrell:
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. Following discussions between the U.S. Department of Education (Department) and your staff, you made certain changes to Arkansas’ accountability plan, which are now included in the amended plan that Arkansas submitted to the Department on September 22, 2010. I am pleased to approve Arkansas’ amended plan, which we will post on the Department’s website. A summary of Arkansas’ requested amendment 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 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 Arkansas 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 Vicki.Robinson@ed.govVicki Robinson or Grace.Ross@ed.gov< of my staff.
Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Mike Beebe
Amendments to Arkansas' Accountability Plan
The following is a summary of Arkansas’ amendment requests. Please refer to the Department’s website (http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for Arkansas’ complete accountability plan.
Definition of a new school (Element 1.2)
Revision: Arkansas amended its accountability workbook to reflect changes in how it will assign an improvement status to a new school. Under Arkansas’ proposal, when two (or more) schools merge to form a new school, the new school will open with an improvement status reflecting the combined scores of the students from the schools that were closed.
Timely adequate yearly progress (AYP) decisions (Element 1.4)
Revision: Arkansas updated its timeline for delivery of AYP information to schools and LEAs. Under Arkansas’ proposal, all LEAs and schools will be required to use their preliminary AYP results (before appeals) to notify parents of all applicable AYP sanctions associated with the district and school. The district and school will be required to document these notifications.
Annual State Report Card (Element 1.5)
Revision: Arkansas amended its accountability workbook to include information related to its Annual School Performance Report Card (Report Card) that is mailed to every parent in the State. Arkansas gathers and publishes information in its Report Card based on the following seven academic indicators: (1) achievement; (2) access; (3) retention; (4) discipline; (5) demographics; (6) choice; and (7) economics. These indicators provide summary information on the scope, quality, and vitality of school districts. Effective March 15, 2010, the Report Card will be revised to include academic achievement information disaggregated by subgroups to conform with the requirements of ESEA.
Rewards and sanctions for public schools (Element 1.6)
Revision: Arkansas amended its accountability workbook to include information on its Annual School Recognition Program, which provides performance-based incentives to outstanding public schools, including charter schools, in two designated category levels. Each school that receives performance-based incentives is classified into one of two category levels, as follows:
- “Category One” for the “school’s improvement gains” tracked longitudinally using a value-added calculation known as the annual improvement category level; or
- “Category Two” based on “performance from the prior year,” referred to as the annual performance category (or “status”).
Rewards and sanctions for local educational agencies (LEAs) (Element 1.6)
Revision: Arkansas updated its accountability workbook to reflect changes to its LEA improvement timeline and include information on its approved Differentiated Accountability model. For LEAs entering into School Improvement Year 3, the State educational agency (SEA) shall, at a minimum, implement one, or any combination, of the seven following sanctions:
- Deferring programmatic funds or reducing administrative funds to the LEA.
- Instituting and fully implementing a new curriculum that is based on State and local academic content and achievement standards, including providing appropriate professional development based on scientifically-based research for all relevant staff that offer substantial promise of improving educational achievement for low-achieving students.
- Replacing LEA persons who are relevant to the failure to make AYP.
- Removing particular schools from the jurisdiction of the LEA and establishing an alternative arrangement for public governance and supervision of such schools.
- Appointing, through the SEA, a receiver or trustee to administer the affairs of the LEA in place of the superintendent and school board.
- Abolishing or restructuring the LEA.
- Authorizing students to transfer from a school operated by the LEA to a higher-performing public school operated by another LEA and providing to such students transportation (or the costs of transportation) to such schools consistent with federal and state laws, rules, and guidelines.
Annual AYP determinations for each public school and LEA (Element 4.1, 5.1)
Revision: Arkansas updated its accountability workbook to reflect changes in how it will calculate AYP for each public school and LEA in the State. A school with fewer than 40 students (the State’s minimum n-size) will have AYP calculated using the three-year status determination for combined population and any eligible subgroups. Arkansas will ensure that all public schools, no matter the size, receive an annual AYP determination. The current process for small schools uses a three-year determination. This process allows AYP determinations to be made for all schools except extremely small schools. Arkansas will assign a status to extremely small schools instead of using N/A. Any issues that may result from extremely small schools will be handled, on a case-by-case basis, through the appeals process.