July 28, 2004
Honorable Patricia Hamamoto
Hawaii Department of Education
P.O. Box 2360
Honolulu, Hawaii 96804
Dear Superintendent Hamamoto:
I am writing in response to Hawaii'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 Hawaii submitted to the Department on July 7, 2004. A list of the changes is enclosed with this letter. I am pleased to fully approve Hawaii's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website.
If, over time, Hawaii makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, Hawaii 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 Hawaii's accountability plan is not also an approval of Hawaii's standards and assessment system. As Hawaii makes changes in its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, Hawaii 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 Hawaii'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 Hawaii'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), and to participate in the Education Flexibility Partnership Program ("Ed-Flex"). 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 Hawaii 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 Hawaii in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
cc: Governor Linda Lingle
Amendments to the Hawaii's Accountability Plan
These statements are summaries of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the Hawaii Accountability plan on the Department's website: http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html
Participation Rate (Elements 2.1, 3.2 and 10.1)
Revision: For purposes of calculating participation rate, Hawaii will use enrollment figures from the first Monday of the week in which testing begins. Hawaii will apply the new participation rate flexibility by using multi-year averaging and the restricted omission of certain students who miss the testing window due to a unique, significant medical emergency. In addition, for participation purposes Hawaii will attribute students who transfer during the testing window to the school where the student completed testing, and for accountability purposes will attribute these students to the school where the full academic year requirement is met.
Accountability for Students with Disabilities (Element 5.3)
Revision: For reporting and accountability purposes, students that take the Alternate Assessment will be assigned to the "Well Below Proficiency" performance level until the State adopts alternate achievement standards.
LEP Student Accountability (Element 5.4)
Revision: Hawaii proposed to take advantage of the flexibility for LEP assessment to include formerly LEP students in the LEP subgroup.
Additional Academic Indicator (Element 7.2)
Revision: Hawaii will change its retention rate from the percentage of repeating 9th grade students to the percentage of repeating 8th grade students. Also, the criteria for meeting the State defined AYP requirement for retention rate will no longer be improvement from the previous year's rate. Instead, schools must meet or exceed the state-set targets.