June 14, 2007
The Honorable Kathy Cox
State Superintendent of Schools
Georgia Department of Education
2062 Twin Towers East
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
Dear Superintendent 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). Following our discussions with your staff, the approved changes are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Georgia submitted to the Department on June 5, 2007. I am pleased to fully approve Georgia's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website. A summary of the amendments submitted for the 2006-2007 school year is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend the Georgia 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 Georgia's accountability plan for Title I, including the amendment 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 hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. I wish you well in your school improvement efforts. If you need any additional assistance in implementing the standards, assessment and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Martha Snyder (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Zollie Stevenson (email@example.com).
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
Acting Assistant Secretary
cc: Governor Sonny Perdue
Dr. Martha Reichrath
Dr. Jeff Gagne
Amendments to the Georgia Accountability Plan
The following is a summary of the State's amendment requests. Please refer to the Department's website (www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for the complete Georgia accountability plan.Acceptable amendments
The following amendment is aligned with the statute and regulations.
Including students with disabilities in AYP (Element 5.3)
Revision: For the 2006-07 school year, Georgia is once again requesting interim flexibility regarding modified achievement standards. Georgia will calculate a proxy (16%) to determine the percentage of students with disabilities (SWD) that is equivalent to 2.0 percent of all students assessed. For 2006-07, 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 2006-07 school year.
AYP and Safe Harbor Determinations (Element 3.2)
Revision: For AYP determinations in 2006-07 and subsequent Quality Core Curriculum (QCC)/Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) transition years, Georgia will equate the QCC to GPS assessment results in grades and subjects where appropriate, using an equi-percentile adjustment for multi-year averaging, safe harbor, and second indicator calculations. This method will be applied for two years across each subject and grade.
High school graduation rate (Element 7.1)
Revision: Beginning in the 2006-07 school year, Georgia will reset the graduation rate requirement to include goals that increase to 100% by 2013-14. Georgia will apply a "second look" if the district, school or subgroup did not meet the annual target. Schools can meet the standard in one of three ways: 1) absolute bar; 2) three-year average at or above annual target; or 3) 10% increase, if minimum threshold was meet the previous year. The initial graduation rate target for the 2006-07 school year is 65%.
Georgia also clarifies the formula used to calculate the graduation rate. Georgia uses the National Center for Education Statistics' "proxy" formula, defined as regular diploma recipients as a percent of students leaving high school over a four-year period (estimated as the sum of diploma recipients and dropouts during the pas four years in grades 9 through 12 respectively).Unacceptable amendments
The following amendments are not aligned with the statute and regulations and are therefore not approved.
Subgroup Accountability: Students with disabilities (Elements 2.2 and 5.3)
The Department cannot approve Georgia's request to include, for accountability purposes, only those the students with disabilities (SWD) subgroup who were reported as SWD from the Fall full time equivalent (FTE) count day through the state's spring testing window; excluding from the SWD subgroup the scores of students who are identified for special education programs and services after the Fall FTE. The proposed change could create a negative incentive to identify students as SWD late in order not to be counted in the subgroup. NCLB uses the IDEA definition of a student with disabilities. The length of time a student receives services has no impact on whether a student meets the definition.
High school graduation rate (Element 7.1)
Georgia's request to include the Special Education Diploma as a regular diploma for AYP purposes cannot be approved. Section 1111 (b)(2)(C)(vi) of the ESEA defines graduation rates for public secondary school students as the percentage of students who graduate from secondary school with a regular diploma in the standard number of years. Regular diplomas must be aligned to regular grade-level content standards, as defined by the State.