July 1, 2005
Ms. Wanda Barrs
Georgia State Board of Education
2035 Twin Towers East
Atlanta, GA 30334
Ms. Kathy Cox
State Superintendent of Schools
Georgia Department of Education
2062 Twin Towers East
Atlanta, GA 30334
Dear Ms. Barrs and Ms. Cox:
I am writing in response to Georgia'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 changes you requested are aligned with NCLB and are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Georgia submitted to the Department on June 29, 2005. The changes are listed in an attachment to this letter. I am pleased to fully approve Georgia's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website.
If, over time, Georgia makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, Georgia 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 Georgia's accountability plan is not also an approval of Georgia's standards and assessment system. As Georgia makes changes in its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, Georgia 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 Georgia'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 am confident that Georgia 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 Georgia in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
cc: Governor Sonny Perdue
Amendment to the Georgia Accountability Plan
This attachment is a summary of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the Georgia Accountability plan on the Department's website: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html.
Including all public schools in the State Accountability System (Element 1.1)
Revision: Students in alternative settings and psychoeducational centers will either have their test scores counted back to their home school or their home system for AYP purposes.
Revision: AYP for Georgia's two K-only schools will be based on attendance and other relevant data. Once Georgia determines how the State will use the other relevant data, the State should amend the accountability plan.
Rewards and sanctions (Element 1.6)
Revision: All schools and districts, not just those receiving Title I funds, will participate in the same federal and state interventions and sanctions.
Including students with disabilities in State assessments (Element 1.3 and 5.3)
Revision: The accountability plan now includes information about the Georgia Alternate Assessment. This information was inserted to ensure consistency between the accountability plan and the State's testing manual.
Including all students in the State Accountability System (Element 2.1 and 5.4)
Revision: As of June 9, 2005, the Georgia State Board of Education initiated amendments to Georgia's Testing Rule so that the Georgia Department can take advantage of the greater flexibility for first-year English language learners (ELL) students as it relates to subject matter assessments (as announced by former Secretary Paige on February 19, 2004). If this rule passes, Georgia should revise the accountability plan to reflect that the State is taking advantage of the flexibility.
Use of a new high school assessment in adequate yearly progress (Elements 3.2a, b and c)
Revision: The starting points, annual measurable objectives, and intermediate goals for the Enhanced Georgia High School Graduation Test were recalculated following the March 2004 administration.
Including students with disabilities in adequate yearly progress (Element 5.3)
Revision: Georgia will use the "proxy method" (Option 1 in ED's guidance dated May 7, 2005) to take advantage of the Secretary's flexibility regarding modified academic achievement standards. Georgia will calculate a proxy to determine the percentage of special education students that is equivalent to 2.0 percent of all students assessed. For this year only, this proxy will then be added to the percent of students with disabilities who are proficient. For any school or district that did not make AYP solely due to its students with disabilities subgroup, Georgia will use this adjusted percent proficient to reexamine if the school or district made AYP for the 2004-05 school year.
Minimum number of students to yield statistically reliable information (Element 5.5)
Revision: For 2005-2006, Georgia's AYP subgroups will be directly proportional to the overall student population. Subgroup size for proficiency in reading/language arts and math is 40 students or 10 percent, whichever is greater (with 75 student cap). Subgroup size for participation rate is 40 students.
High school graduation rate (Element 7.1)
Revision: Beginning in the 2004-2005 school year, Georgia will calculate the graduation rate using the standard number of years, which will be defined as 4 years including the summer school term after 12th grade for all subgroups except English language learners (ELL) and students with disabilities. AYP determinations for the following school year will not delayed as a consequence. Beginning in the 2005-2006 school year, schools and systems can count, on a case-by-case basis (with documentation), ELL students in their high school graduation rate if these students graduate with a regular diploma within five years and a summer.
Revision: Georgia will reconsider its graduation rate standard as the new student information system comes online. The new methodology being developed by the state for calculating graduation rates will focus on longitudinal tracking of individual students (as opposed to Georgia's previous plan of setting triennial goals beginning school year 2004-05 for raising the "bar" for improved graduation rates).