February 2, 2004
Honorable Gene Wilhoit
Commissioner of Education
Kentucky Department of Education
Capital Plaza Tower
500 Metro Street
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601
Dear Commissioner Wilhoit:
I am writing regarding your submission of amendments to the Kentucky Consolidated State Application Accountability Workbook, and the use of those amendments to make AYP determinations prior to their being approved. As you know, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) provides your State the flexibility to revise its accountability plan laid out in its Workbook.
The July 1, 2003, letter sent to you by Under Secretary Eugene Hickok informed you that any changes Kentucky makes to its accountability plan must be submitted to the U.S Department of Education (Department) for approval, as required by section 1111(f)(2) of NCLB. Kentucky has made numerous changes to its State accountability plan since its conditional approval on June 10, 2003. Kentucky incorporated those changes into a revised Workbook submitted to the Department on January 9, 2004. Several of those changes note actions taken by the Kentucky Board of Education to adopt the plan's proposals. Other actions taken by the Board substantially alter components of the plan, including:
- The revision of the graduation rate to count as graduates those students who earn a diploma within the amount of time specified in their individual IEP;
- The approval of using additional indicator data that are lagged one year;
- Changing the additional indicator from the academic index to the accountability index;
- The revision of starting points, annual measurable objectives and intermediate goals based on additional grade spans (K-12, K-8, 7-12), and a multi-plateau trajectory; and
- The revision of the minimum group size for participation rate from 10 students per grade and 30 students per school to 10 students per grade and 60 students per school.
I have reviewed the amendments you have requested and find them acceptable. The Workbook you submitted is approved and will be posted on the Department's website.
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I also understand that Kentucky made adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations for the 2002-2003 school year using several of the amendments listed above that had been submitted to the Department, but not yet approved. This unacceptable action impedes the Secretary's duty to ensure that States are implementing accountability plans that meet the requirements of Title I, Part A of NCLB. The Secretary takes this duty seriously and is inclined to withhold Title I funds from any State that does not fulfill its assurance of implementing its approved plan. By not using its approved plan to make AYP determinations for school year 2002-2003, Kentucky is subject to the loss of federal funding. In this one instance, however, the Secretary will not withhold Kentucky's federal funds only because the criteria it used to make AYP determinations are compliant with NCLB. In the future, do not deviate from your amended plan as approved by the Department, lest you be subject to financial consequences.
I remind you that if, over time, Kentucky makes additional changes to the amended accountability plan that has been approved, you must submit information about those changes to the Department for approval, as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I. Again, these changes must be approved prior to their use by Kentucky to make AYP determinations. As Kentucky makes changes in its assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, Kentucky must submit information about those changes to the Department for peer review through the standards and assessment process. I also note that Kentucky has met all of its plan's conditions of approval except for two pending items: the definition of full academic year, and the reporting of assessment results to ensure timely identification and notification of schools in need of improvement. Please keep me apprised of the progress on these two outstanding components of your plan.
I appreciate your efforts to provide all Kentucky students with a quality education.
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education