September 15, 2005
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Arizona Department of Education
1535 West Jefferson Street, Bin 2
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Dear Superintendent Horne:
I am writing in response to Arizona's request to amend its State accountability plan under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). The changes you requested are aligned with NCLB and are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Arizona submitted to the Department on August 19, 2005. The changes are listed in an attachment to this letter. I am pleased to fully approve Arizona's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website.
If, over time, Arizona makes additional changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, Arizona must submit information about those changes to the Department for review and approval, as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I. In addition, if any findings regarding Arizona's accountability plan result from the recent monitoring review by the Student Achievement and School Accountability office, Arizona would need to amend its plan to address those findings.
Please note that approval of Arizona's accountability plan is not an approval of Arizona's standards and assessment system. As Arizona makes changes in its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, Arizona must submit information about those changes to the Department for peer review through the standards and assessment process.
Please also be aware that approval of Arizona'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.
I am confident that Arizona will continue to advance its efforts to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. I wish you well in your school improvement efforts. If I can be of any additional assistance to Arizona in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Governor Janet Napolitano
Amendments to the Arizona Accountability Plan
This attachment is a summary of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the Arizona accountability plan on the Department's website: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html.
Calculating adequate yearly progress (AYP) (Element 3.2)
Revision: Arizona will use a goal of 90 percent for the attendance rate indicator. A school or LEA is deemed to have met the goal if it demonstrates a one-percentage point improvement over the previous year.
Minimum Group Size (Elements 3.2, 5.5, and 10.1)
Request: Arizona will use a minimum group size of 40 (with a 99% confidence interval) for proficiency and participation rate calculations.
District identification for improvement (Element 4.1)
Revision: Arizona will identify districts for improvement only when they do not make AYP in the same subject or other academic indicator in both grade spans (i.e., elementary/middle and high schools) for two consecutive years. In implementing this provision, Arizona should 1) monitor districts that have not made AYP in one grade span but have not been identified for improvement to ensure they are making the necessary curricular and instructional changes to improve achievement, and 2) take steps to ensure supplemental services are available to eligible students from a variety of providers throughout the state (including in districts that have not been identified for improvement but that have schools that have been in improvement for more than one year).
Including students with disabilities in AYP (Element 5.3)
Revision: Arizona will use the "proxy method" (Option 1 in ED's guidance dated May 7, 2005) to take advantage of the Secretary's interim flexibility regarding calculating AYP for students with disabilities. Arizona will calculate a proxy to determine the percentage of students with disabilities that is equivalent to 2.0 percent of all students assessed. For this year only, this proxy will then be added to the percent of students with disabilities who are proficient. For any school or district that did not make AYP solely due to its students with disabilities subgroup, Arizona will use this adjusted percent proficient to reexamine if the school or district made AYP for the 2004-05 school year. This calculation will not use a confidence interval.
Including English language learners in AYP (Element 5.4)
Revision: Arizona will take advantage of the flexibility offered in the Secretary's letter of February 20, 2004 regarding the inclusion of English language learners who have become proficient in the English language learner subgroup for up to two years after the students have reached proficiency.