Honorable Andy Tompkins
Commissioner of Education
Kansas State Department of Education
120 SE 10th Avenue
Topeka, Kansas 66612-1182
Dear Commissioner Tompkins:
I am writing in response to Kansas' 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 Kansas submitted to the Department on May 17, 2004. I am pleased to approve Kansas' amendments. A list of the changes is enclosed with this letter. We will post Kansas' amended plan on the Department's website.
Additionally, based on information you have provided us, regarding the actions taken by the Kansas Department of Education to finalize certain elements in the accountability plan required under NCLB, Kansas has met the conditions of approval that were detailed in Eugene W. Hickok's March 31, 2003 letter to Kansas.
This letter also documents one aspect of Kansas' amendments for which final action is still needed. Kansas wishes to apply a confidence interval to safe harbor determinations. Kansas may use this statistical test (limited to a 75% confidence interval) for making adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations this school year. We request, however, that Kansas provide impact data from the 2003-2004 AYP data regarding the use of this statistical test for “safe harbor” when available. These data will provide valuable information regarding this particular aspect of the accountability system.
If, over time, Kansas makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, Kansas 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 Kansas's accountability plan is not also an approval of Kansas's standards and assessment system. As Kansas makes changes in its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, Kansas 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 Kansas'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 Kansas' 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 Kansas 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 Kansas in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
cc: Governor Kathleen Sebelius
Amendments to the Kansas Accountability Plan
These statements are summaries of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the Kansas Accountability plan on the Department's website: http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html
AYP for schools without tested grades (Element 1.2)
Revision: Kansas will provide schools without tested grades two options for making AYP decisions. The first option is to continue with the feeder pattern and base the AYP on the feeder school's performance. The second option is to administer the K-3 mathematics and/or the K-4 reading assessments and use the results to determine AYP.
Confidence Intervals (Element 3.2)
Revision: Kansas will apply a 99% confidence interval to AYP decisions, except for in applying the "safe harbor" process in which a 75% confidence interval will be used. Data will be provided regarding how the confidence interval is applied to 'safe harbor' determinations of AYP.
Applying the 1 percent cap for alternate assessment results (Element 5.3)
Revision: Kansas provided detail about the process it will use with its districts when districts requests an exception to the 1.0 percent cap on results from alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards. Kansas has provided detail about its reallocation process to be used if a district exceeds the 1.0 percent cap on the proficient and advanced scores that may be used in AYP decisions.
Implementing new flexibility regarding limited English proficient students (Element 5.4)
Revision: Kansas will include the flexibility that the Secretary's letter of February 20, 2004 provides relative to LEP students for assessment and accountability purposes.
Defining the minimum number of students with disabilities (Element 5.5)
Revision: Kansas' current cell size for all subgroups is 30 with a confidence interval. Kansas will now use an n-size of 40 for the subgroups of students with disabilities.
Changing confidence intervals from 95% to 99% Element 5.5)
Revision: Kansas will increase its 95% confidence interval to 99% for AYP decisions.
Applying safe harbor to small schools (Element 5.5)
Revision: Kansas will begin to apply the safe harbor methodology to schools that have fewer than 30 students in the tested grades.
Expanding the definition of graduation to include IEP graduates (Element 7.1)
Revision: Kansas allows students with disabilities to take additional years to attain a regular diploma. In such instances, these students will be considered as graduates in the standard number of years.
Removing attendance as an indicator for high schools (Element 7.2)
Revision: Kansas will not require high schools to use attendance rate as another academic indicator for AYP decisions. High schools will continue using graduation rate.
Clarifying the proposed high school state mathematics assessment (Element 9.3)
Revision: Kansas has new plans for a high school mathematics assessment. These plans are not necessarily related to the accountability plan, but important to the overall Kansas state educational system.
Participation rate (Element 10.1)
Revision: Kansas has adopted the new flexibility regarding students who have medical emergencies during the testing window and their effect on a school's participation rate. Further, until Kansas' data system is finished, Kansas will use a revised formula for participation rates.