June 17, 2004
Dr. Valerie Woodruff,
Secretary of Education
Delaware State Department of Education
P.O. Box 1402
Dover, DE 19903
Dear Secretary Woodruff:
I am writing in response to Delaware'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). Following our discussions with your staff, those changes that are aligned with NCLB are now included in an amended state accountability plan that Delaware submitted to the Department on March 31, 2004. A list of the changes is enclosed with this letter. I am pleased to approve Delaware's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website.
Additionally, Delaware has also submitted data on its starting points and annual measurable objectives (Elements 3.2a and 3.2b), and clarification on its calculation of graduation rate (Element 7.1), and in doing so, has met the conditions of approval that were detailed in Eugene W. Hickok's June 27, 2003 letter to you.
If, over time, Delaware makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, Delaware must submit information about those changes to the Department for review and approval, as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I. Approval of Delaware's accountability plan is not also an approval of Delaware's standards and assessment system. As Delaware makes changes in its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, Delaware 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 Delaware'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 hope that you have found the accountability plan amendment process effective for implementing a state accountability system that best serves the needs of Delaware's students and schools and that will lead to improving the academic achievement of all students. As evidenced by the diversity among state accountability plans and state consolidated applications, States have great flexibility in the design of their systems and implementation of particular NCLB provisions. If, as you implement your accountability plan, you find additional elements of your plan that you believe should be refined or amended for next school year to best serve the needs of your students and schools, I encourage you to explore all the areas of flexibility available to your State.
In addition to the flexibility available to States in the design and implementation of their accountability plans, I also encourage you and your districts to utilize the additional flexibility available for the administration and operation of NCLB programs. NCLB continued the flexibility available to States and districts under the 1994 reauthorization of the ESEA, including the ability to consolidate State and local administrative funds (sections 9201 and 9203), to operate schoolwide programs (section 1114). Additionally, NCLB created several new flexibility options for States and districts for the operation of federal programs. These new flexibility provisions include the State Flexibility Authority (sections 6141 through 6144), the Local Flexibility Demonstration program (sections 6151 through 6156), Transferability (sections 6121 through 6123), and the Rural Education Achievement program (sections 6201 through 6234). These flexibilities truly offer States and districts the ability to target federal resources to their unique and individual needs.
I am confident that Delaware 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 Delaware in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
cc: Governor Ruth Ann Minner
Amendments to Delaware's Accountability Plan
These statements are summaries of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the Delaware Accountability plan on the Department's website: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html
Single Statewide Accountability System (Elements 1.2 and 1.6)
Revision: Delaware's accountability system and its system and rewards and sanctions will combine AYP determinations with state accountability requirements.
Confidence Interval (Element 3.2)
Revision: Delaware will apply a confidence interval not greater than 98% when making adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations.
Use of alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards (Element 5.3)
Revision: Delaware will implement the flexibility provided by the December 2003 regulation related to alternate assessments based on alternate achievement scores.
Assessment and accountability for LEP students (Element 5.4)
Revision: Delaware will include the flexibility that the Secretary's letter of February 20, 2004 provides relative to LEP students for assessment and accountability purposes.
Other academic indicator (Element 7.2)
Revision: Delaware will change its other academic indicator for elementary and middle schools from the percent of students meeting or exceeding the standards on State science and social studies assessments to an improvement in the performance of its lowest achieving students.
Participation Rate (Elements 2.1 and 10.1)
Revision: Delaware indicates will implement the new flexibility regarding multi-year averaging of participation rate, and the new flexibility regarding students who have medical emergencies during the testing window and its affect on a school's participation rate.