August 9, 2005
The Honorable William Moloney
Commissioner of Education
Colorado Department of Education
201 East Colfax Avenue, Room 500
Denver, Colorado 80203
Dear Commissioner Moloney:
I am writing in response to Colorado'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 change you requested is aligned with NCLB and is now included in an amended State accountability plan that Colorado submitted to the Department on June 29, 2005. The change is listed in an attachment to this letter.
While your request to amend Colorado's accountability plan for 2004-2005 AYP determinations is approved, I wanted to take this opportunity to document several aspects of Colorado's plan for which final action is still needed, which have been referenced in several communications from the U.S. Department of Education and need immediate attention.
Colorado's response to elements 2.1, 5.4 and 10.1 in its accountability plan all use similar language regarding the inclusion of all students in the state accountability system. Colorado states, "those students not participating in the state assessment are counted as a "zero" for the purpose of accountability."
No Child Left Behind requires that all students, including LEP students, participate in a state's assessment system, although a school can make "adequate yearly progress" if at least 95 percent of students, measured by total school population and by subgroup, participate. It is not sufficient for the State to automatically assign a not proficient score (in the absence of actual test data) in lieu of identifying that student as not participating. There is flexibility with regard to "recently arrived" LEP students who are in their first year of enrollment in U.S. schools. A State may exempt these students from one administration of the reading/language arts content assessment. They must, however, take the mathematics assessment, with accommodations as appropriate. A State may, but is not required to, include results from the mathematics and, if given, the reading/language arts content assessments in AYP calculations. All other students (including LEP students not in their first year of enrollment in U.S. schools) must be tested in reading and mathematics. Any student for whom the State does not have an achievement result must be counted as not participating in the statewide assessment system and counted in the denominator for the calculation of the participation rate.
Full participation in assessments is a cornerstone of No Child Left Behind and an essential provision to ensure that all children are achieving and given the help they need. As you know, a condition regarding this issue has been placed on Colorado's Title I, Part A grant award and must be resolved by September 15, 2005. Please revise elements 2.1, 5.4 and 10.1 in Colorado’s accountability plan to properly reflect the inclusion of LEP students. As soon as Colorado has satisfactorily addressed this issue, we will fully approve its accountability plan.
I am confident that Colorado 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 Colorado in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Governor William Owens
Amendment to the Colorado Accountability Plan
This attachment is a summary of the amendment. For complete details, please refer to the Colorado accountability plan on the Department's website: ww.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html.
Students with Disabilities included in the definition of adequate yearly progress (Element 5.3)
Revision: For 2004-2005 AYP determinations only, Colorado intends to use the following flexibility for students with disabilities in AYP. If a school or district does not make AYP solely because of performance targets for students with disabilities, the school or district may appeal the determination if the students with disabilities subgroup met 2003-2004 AYP targets.