June 22, 2009
The Honorable Kerri L. Briggs
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 Briggs:
Congratulations on your new role. We wish you the best in working on the behalf of students, teachers, and families in the District of Columbia. As you may know, the Secretary is traveling the country and listening to representatives from states and school districts, as well as other stakeholders, talk about the ways in which the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) can be improved. These conversations will inform the next reauthorization of the statute. In the meantime, we will push towards our reform goals under the authority of, and in accordance with, the existing statute and regulations.
I am writing in response to the District of Columbia's request to amend its state accountability plan under Title I of the ESEA. Following discussions between the Department and your staff, you made changes to the District of Columbia’s accountability plan, which are now included in the amended plan that the District of Columbia submitted to the Department on May 18, 2009. I am pleased to approve the District of Columbia’s amended plan, which we will post on the Department’s website. A summary of the District of Columbia's requested amendments 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 the ESEA, please do not hesitate to contact Victoria.Hammer@ed.gov or Sue.Rigney@ed.gov of my staff.
Joseph C. Conaty
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 http://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.
Including all schools in the state accountability system (Element 1.1)
Revision: The District of Columbia will define a “consolidated school” as one that receives students from a sending school that has merged or closed. If a consolidation results in a change of at least 40 percent of the receiving school’s population, an LEA may petition to have the school’s safe harbor targets that will be used in determining adequate yearly progress (AYP) for the next school year recalculated based on the school's new population. In such cases, in the first year of consolidation, the school would receive the AYP determination of the receiving school. However, for the purposes of determining AYP via safe harbor for the year following the consolidation, the District of Columbia would recalculate the safe harbor targets based on the consolidated population (i.e. based on the previous year’s assessment results for all students from the sending and receiving schools that constitute the population of the consolidated school).
Revision: The District of Columbia will allow an LEA to petition for a consolidated school to be designated as a “new” school if at least 50 percent of the student population or grade spans change. If the District of Columbia approves an LEA's petition for a consolidated school to be designated as a "new" school, the school’s accountability status will restart. If the District of Columbia does not approve the petition, the school's AYP accountability status will be as originally determined (i.e., the status of the receiving school).
Revision: The District of Columbia clarified that eligible public school students placed in non-public schools for special education and related services will be assessed on the statewide assessment at a test site approved by the originating LEA’s assessment coordinator and under the same test security procedures. These students' scores will be included in the AYP determinations of the LEA that placed them.
Full academic year definition (Element 2.2)
Revision: The District of Columbia amended its definition of full academic year to indicate that a student will be counted as being enrolled for a full academic year if that student is enrolled for 85 percent of the time between the fall enrollment date in October through the first day of testing in April. Further, the District of Columbia clarified that students who change schools within an LEA are included in the LEA and state proficiency calculations only, and students who change LEAs are included in state proficiency calculations only.
Graduation rate (Element 7.1)
Revision: The District of Columbia affirmed that it will use a four-year adjusted-cohort graduation rate (34 C.F.R. § 200.19(b)(1)(i)(A)) for reporting purposes in 2010–11 and in making AYP determinations in 2011–12. In the interim, the District of Columbia will continue to define its graduation rate as the total number of graduates in a given year with a regular diploma divided by the sum of graduates for that year and dropouts for that year and the three preceding years.
Please note that the District of Columbia must submit its graduation rate goal and targets for the 2009-10 school year and beyond in fall 2009 for technical assistance and peer review, as required in 34 C.F.R. § 200.19(b)(6)(i)(A).