May 23, 2007
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 of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Following our discussions with your staff, the approved changes are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Colorado submitted to the Department on May 14, 2007, which we will post on the Department's website. A summary of the requested amendments is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend the Colorado accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I.
Please also be aware that approval of Colorado'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 Colorado's efforts to raise the achievement of all students and hold all schools accountable. If you need any additional assistance in your efforts to implement the standards, assessment and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Jeff Johnson (Jeff.Johnson@ed.gov) or David Harmon (David.Harmon@ed.gov) of my staff.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
Acting Assistant Secretary
cc: Governor Bill Ritter
Amendments to the Colorado Accountability Plan
The following is a summary of Colorado's amendment requests. Please refer to the Department's website (www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for the complete Colorado accountability plan.
The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations.
Safe Harbor Calculation (Element 3.2)
Revision: Colorado will add an additional safe harbor measure that uses a longitudinal model to compare the same students' scores from the prior year to the current year. Colorado has a data system that is able to track achievement as students progress through the school system. The longitudinal safe harbor will allow any district, school, or student group to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) provided there is a 10 percent decrease in the percentage of non-proficient scores in the current year compared to the previous year, comparing individual student assessment results in the current and previous year. Colorado will include this calculation for any district, school, or subgroup that does not meet the annual measurable objective or the traditional safe harbor, provided that the match rate for the group of students is 95 percent or higher. Colorado will not apply a confidence interval to this application.
In order to evaluate the impact of the longitudinal safe harbor on AYP determinations, the Department is granting approval of this amendment for the 2006-07 school year only. Continuation of approval of this amendment is contingent upon the State's submitting impact data to the Department for review.
Inclusion of Students with Disabilities (Element 5.3)
Revision: Colorado will continue to use option 3 in our guidance dated December 2005 to take advantage of the interim flexibility regarding calculating AYP for the students with disabilities subgroup (refer to: www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/secletter/070207.html). For schools and districts that do not make AYP solely on the basis of the students with disabilities subgroup when compared to the current annual measurable objectives (AMOs) that have remained the same in 2004-05, 2005-06, and 2006-07, Colorado will compare the percentage of students proficient against the 2003-04 AMOs for the students with disabilities group to determine if the group met AYP.
The following amendments are not aligned with the statute and regulations and may not be included in the approved workbook.
Public School Choice and Supplemental Educational Services (Element 1.6)
The Department cannot approve Colorado's proposal to require districts to offer both supplemental educational services (SES) and public school choice in the first year Title I schools are identified as in need of improvement. Because the statute (§1116(b)(1)(E)) only requires a district to offer public school choice in a Title I school in its first year of improvement, a State cannot require its districts to offer both choice and SES in that first year. The State may, however, permit districts to implement SES voluntarily in the first year of improvement. If a district chooses to offer both public school choice and SES options in the first year of improvement, please note that the district must satisfy all public school choice requests first, followed by requests for SES from students in schools in the second year of improvement. Then, the district may satisfy SES requests from students in schools in the first year of improvement.
A district may count the SES offered to students in schools in the first year of improvement toward meeting the 20 percent requirement, provided that the SES services meet all the requirements of section 1116(e) of the ESEA and the district is meeting demand for public school choice and SES services for students in schools in the second year of improvement.
Districts Identified for Improvement (Element 9.1)
The Department cannot approve Colorado's proposal to give equal priority in the awarding of school improvement funds under section 1003(a) of the ESEA in support of district-wide systemic strategies and reforms to districts identified as in need of improvement that have no schools in the district identified as in need of improvement as is given to schools identified as in need or improvement. A State is required under section 1003 of the ESEA to reserve 4 percent of the Title I funds it receives for school improvement activities. Of the amount reserved, the State must allocate not less than 95 percent directly to districts for schools identified for improvement. Based on this language, the State may not initially allocate section 1003 funds to districts that do not have any schools identified as in need of improvement. However, under section 1003(d), if a State determines, after consultation with districts in the State, that the amount of section 1003 funds it is required to reserve is more than the amount needed to provide assistance to schools in improvement, the State may allocate the excess amount to districts identified as in need of improvement that do not have any schools identified for improvement, either as part of the regular Title I allocation process or in accordance with section 1126(c), which permits a State to allocate excess Title I funds to districts based on need.