August 2, 2006
The Honorable Cecil J. Picard
Superintendent of Education
Louisiana Department of Education
P.O. Box 94064
1201 North 3rd Street, 5th Floor
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804-9064
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 of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Following our discussions with your staff, the changes that are aligned with NCLB are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Louisiana submitted to the Department on July 31, 2006. I am pleased to fully approve Louisiana's plan, which will be posted on the Department's website. A summary of the approved amendments is enclosed with this letter. A separate letter is forthcoming regarding Louisiana's requests related to accountability for schools with students displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
As you know, any further requests to amend the Louisiana accountability plan must be submitted 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 does not constitute approval of the State's standards and assessment system (including the Louisiana Alternate Assessment, Level 2, or the LAA2).
Please also be aware that approval of Louisiana'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 Louisiana's efforts to raise the achievement of all students and hold all schools accountable. If you need any additional assistance to implement the standards, assessments, and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Patrick Rooney (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Grace Ross (email@example.com) of my staff.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
Amendments to the Louisiana 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 Louisiana accountability plan.
Timeline for making adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations (Elements 1.4, 1.6, and 3.2)
Revision: Louisiana will conduct standard setting for new assessments in August 2006, with preliminary AYP results available by October 20. As soon as preliminary data are available, Louisiana will immediately contact schools and districts regarding their AYP status. The State will ensure that district staff is instructed to use preliminary AYP results from October 20, 2006, prior to the final public release of test results in December 2006. On October 20, schools and/or districts that would be required to implement consequences based on preliminary data will be contacted to confirm their status and inform them of consequences, expectations, and timelines. Schools and districts that are currently identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring must offer interventions before the start of the school year and continue in that stage until the final publication of data in December 2006. Schools and districts that move into or further along the AYP consequences must act on preliminary data and immediately begin the improvement process including: notifying parents of the identification, including their option to transfer their child to a school not identified for improvement; developing improvement plan; reserving 10 percent of Title I funds for professional development, etc.
Students displaced by Hurricane Katrina (Elements 2.1 and 5.1)
Revision: As approved by the Department through a flexibility agreement, Louisiana will create a new subgroup specifically for students displaced by Hurricane Katrina and the State will grant a 1-year waiver from AYP determinations for schools that were closed for more than 18 days and that are located in a declared disaster area. For additional details regarding this flexibility agreement, please refer to the letter from the Department dated August 2, 2006.
District determinations of AYP (Element 3.2)
Revision: Louisiana will identify districts for improvement only when they do not make AYP in the same subject or other indicator in all grade spans (i.e., elementary, middle school and high school) for two consecutive years. In implementing this provision, Louisiana should (1) monitor districts that have not made AYP in one grade span but have not been identified for improvement to ensure they are making the necessary curricular and instructional changes to improve achievement, and (2) take steps to ensure that supplemental educational services are available to eligible students from a variety of providers throughout the State (including in districts that have not been identified for improvement but that have schools that have been in improvement for more than one year).
Including students with disabilities in AYP determinations (Element 5.3)
Revision: Louisiana will implement option 2 of the interim flexibility regarding calculating AYP for students with disabilities. (See www.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/secletter/051214a.html.) Louisiana will include as proficient (up to a 2.0 percent cap at the district and State level) students who take the Louisiana Alternate Assessment, Level 2 (LAA2), which assesses grade level academic standards and is based on modified achievement standards. Please note that approval of this amendment does not constitute approval of the LAA2 assessment as part of the Department's responsibility to ensure that State standards and assessments meet NCLB requirements.
Calculation of participation rates (Element 10.1)
Revision: Louisiana clarified that the participation rate is determined by dividing the number of students with valid test scores by the total number of eligible students.