August 2, 2007
The Honorable Dwight Johnson
Idaho State Board of Education
650 West State Street
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, Idaho 83720-0037
The Honorable Tom Luna
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 Mr. Johnson and Mr. Luna:
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 of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Following our discussions with your staff, the changes are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Idaho submitted to the Department on July 23, 2007. I am pleased to fully approve Idaho's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website. A summary of the approved amendments is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend the Idaho accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I.
I want to take this opportunity to comment on the State's graduation rate. We have recently determined, through conversations with your staff, that the State's current graduation rate is out of compliance with the ESEA statue and regulations as it includes retained students who graduate in more than four years in the numerator of the calculation. Under the statute and regulations, only students who graduate with a regular diploma in the standard number of years may be included in the numerator. The Department will not take action this year, as we understand that you are working to adjust your graduation rate to include only those students who receive a regular high school diploma in the standard number of years. However, the graduation rate used for adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations in the summer 2008 must include only those students who receive a regular high school diploma in four years or less.
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.
NCLB has provided a vehicle for States to raise the achievement of all students and to close the achievement gap. We are seeing the results of our combined endeavor; achievement is rising throughout the nation. I appreciate Idaho's efforts to raise the achievement of all students and hold all schools accountable. If you need any additional assistance to implement the standards, assessment, and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Martha Snyder (Martha.Snyder@ed.gov) or David Harmon (David.Harmon@ed.gov) of my staff.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Butch Otter
Amendments to the Idaho accountability plan
The following is a summary of the State's approved amendments. Please refer to the Department's website (www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for the complete Idaho accountability plan.
Including students with disabilities in AYP determinations (Elements 5.3)
Revision: Idaho will use the "proxy method" (option 1 in the Department's guidance dated December 2005) to take advantage of the interim flexibility in determining adequate yearly progress (AYP) for the students with disabilities subgroup (refer to: www.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/secletter/051214a.html). Idaho will calculate a proxy to determine the percentage of students with disabilities that is equivalent to 2.0 percent of all students assessed. For this year only, this proxy will then be added to the percentage 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, Idaho will use this adjusted percent proficient to re-examine if the school or district made AYP for the 2006-07 school year.
Counting students no longer receiving services in the students with disabilities subgroup (Element 5.3)
Revision: When calculating the percent of students proficient to determine AYP for the students with disabilities group, Idaho will include the scores of students who previously received services within the prior two years, pursuant to the regulations issued by the Department on April 9, 2007.
Graduation rate (Element 7.1)
Revision: Idaho is currently unable to calculate a disaggregated graduation rate for AYP determinations. Idaho will continue to use, for 2006-07 AYP determinations, its existing system of using the other academic indicator for the elementary and middle school level when implementing the Safe Harbor component of AYP in high schools for any student group that does not meet the annual measurable objective for the percentage proficient on the mathematics or reading assessments. Disaggregated graduation rate data will be used for Safe Harbor purposes beginning in the 2007-08 AYP determinations.