August 5, 2005
The Honorable Cecil J. Picard
State Superintendent of Education
Louisiana Department of Education
P. O. Box 94064
Baton Rouge, LA 70804
Dear Superintendent Picard:
I am writing in response to Louisiana'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). The changes you requested are aligned with NCLB and are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Louisiana submitted to the Department on July 21, 2005. The changes are listed in an attachment to this letter.
Additionally, based on information you have provided us regarding the actions taken by the Louisiana Department of Education to finalize certain elements in the accountability plan required under NCLB, Louisiana has met the conditions of approval that were detailed in former Under Secretary Eugene W. Hickok's June 27, 2003 letter to Louisiana. I am pleased to fully approve Louisiana's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website.
If, over time, Louisiana makes additional changes to its accountability plan, Louisiana must submit information about those changes to the Department for review and approval, as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I. Please note that approval of Louisiana's accountability plan is not also an approval of Louisiana's standards and assessment system. As Louisiana makes changes in its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, Louisiana 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 Louisiana's accountability plan for Title I, including the amendment 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 am confident that Louisiana 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 Louisiana in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Governor Kathleen Blanco
Amendments to the Louisiana Accountability Plan
This attachment is a summary of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the Louisiana Accountability plan on the Department's website: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html.
Identifying districts for improvement (Element 4.1)
Revision: Louisiana clarified language regarding the process for identifying districts for improvement.
Including students with disabilities in adequate yearly progress (Element 5.3)
Revision: Louisiana will use the "proxy method" (Option 1 in ED's guidance dated May 10, 2005) to take advantage of the Secretary's flexibility regarding calculating AYP for students with disabilities. Louisiana 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 percent 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, Louisiana will use this adjusted percent proficient to reexamine if the school or district made AYP for the 2004-05 school year.