September 10, 2004
Honorable Roderic W. Lewis
Idaho State Board of Education
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, Idaho 83720
Honorable Marilyn Howard
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Idaho Department of Education
Len B. Jordan Office Building
650 West State Street
P. O. Box 83720
Boise, Idaho 83720
Dear President Lewis and Superintendent Howard:
I am writing in response to Idaho'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 Idaho submitted to the Department on September 2, 2004. I am pleased to approve Idaho's amendments. A list of the changes is attached to this letter. Additionally, based on information you have provided us, regarding the actions taken by the Idaho State Board of Education to finalize certain elements in the accountability plan required under NCLB, Idaho has met all of its conditions of approval, as were detailed in Eugene W. Hickok's June 27, 2003 letter to Idaho. As such, I am also pleased to inform you that I have determined that Idaho's accountability plan is fully approved. We will post Idaho's amended plan on the Department's website.
If, over time, Idaho makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, Idaho 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 Idaho's accountability plan is not also an approval of Idaho's standards and assessment system. As Idaho continues to develop its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, Idaho must submit information about those efforts to the Department for peer review through the standards and assessment process.
Please also be aware that approval of Idaho'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 Idaho' 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 Idaho 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 Idaho in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
cc: Governor Dirk Kempthorne
Amendments to the Idaho Accountability Plan
These statements are summaries of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the Idaho Accountability plan on the Department's website: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html.
Assessment and Accountability of LEP students (Elements 2.1, 5.4)
Revision: Idaho will utilize the flexibility that the Secretary’s letter of February 20, 2004 provides relative to LEP students for assessment and accountability purposes.
Safe Harbor (Elements 3.2, 5.5)
Revision: Idaho has clarified how the State will calculate safe harbor for student subgroups that meet the minimum accountability group size the present year but that did not meet the minimum accountability group size the prior year.
Graduation Rate for Students with Disabilities (Element 7.1)
Revision: Idaho will consider as a student graduating with a regular diploma in the standard number of years a student with a disability who receives a regular diploma in the number of years specified in the student's IEP.
Additional Academic Indicator (Element 7.2)
Revision: Idaho has provided detail on the new additional academic indicator the State will use beginning with data from the 2004-2005 school year.
Participation rate (Element 10.2)
Revision: Idaho will adopt the new flexibility regarding multi-year averaging of participation rate. Idaho will also adopt the new flexibility regarding students who cannot take an assessment during the entire testing window, including make-up dates, due to a significant medical emergency.