July 28, 2008
The Honorable Deborah Gist
State Superintendent for Education
Office of the State Superintendent of Education
Government of the District of Columbia, One Judiciary Square
441 4th Street, NW, Suite 350 North
Washington, DC 20001
Dear Superintendent Gist:
I am writing in response to the District of Columbia'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 discussions between the Department and your staff, you made certain changes to the District of Columbia's accountability plan, which are now included in the amended state accountability plan that the District of Columbia submitted to the Department on July 24, 2008. I am pleased to fully approve the District of Columbia's 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 the District of Columbia's 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 the District of Columbia's 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 the District of Columbia 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 NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Jessica Morffi (Jessica.Morffi@ed.gov) or Sue Rigney (Sue.Rigney@ed.gov) of my staff.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
cc: Mayor Adrian Fenty
Amendments to the District of Columbia's Accountability Plan
The following is a summary of the District of Columbia's amendment requests. Please refer to the Department's website (www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for the District of Columbia's complete accountability plan.
The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations:
Science assessments (Element 1.3)
Revision: The District of Columbia clarifies that it will administer science assessments in grades 5 and 8 and Biology.
Inclusion of limited English proficient (LEP) students (Element 5.4)
Revision: The District of Columbia clarifies that an LEP student is a linguistically and culturally diverse student with an English language proficiency level that does not allow the student to participate in the general program of the school without alternative language services. Exiting from the LEP subgroup occurs when a student attains fluency in English language proficiency as measured by achieving a proficiency level of 5.0 or above on the ACCESS for English language learners test.
Other academic indicator (Element 7.1 and 7.2)
Revision: The District of Columbia revises its targets for the other academic indicators for determining annual yearly progress (AYP) as follows:
- For graduation rates the target is 69.9 percent. A school or district below the state average must show annual improvement of at least 1 percentage point from the previous year.
- For attendance the target is 90 percent daily attendance. A school or district with less than 90 percent daily attendance must show annual improvement of at least 1 percentage point from the previous year.
The following amendment is not aligned with the statute and regulations and is therefore not approved.
Minimum group size (Element 5.5)
The Department does not approve the District of Columbia's request to use a uniform minimum group size of 40 students for all student groups rather than the currently approved uniform minimum group size of 25 students when calculating AYP. The District of Columbia failed to provide evidence demonstrating that the approved minimum group size of 25 students does not yield valid and reliable results.