September 24, 2008
The Honorable Paul G. Pastorek
Superintendent of Education
Louisiana Department of Education
PO Box 94064
1201 North 3rd Street, 5th Floor
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804-9064
Dear Superintendent Pastorek:
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 discussions between the Department and your staff, you made certain changes to Louisiana's accountability plan, which are now included in the amended state accountability plan that Louisiana submitted to the Department on September 12, 2008. I am pleased to approve Louisiana's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website. A summary of Louisiana's requested amendments is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend Louisiana's accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I of the ESEA.
Please also be aware that approval of Louisiana's accountability plan for Title I, including the amendments approved herein, 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. If you need any additional assistance to implement the standards, assessment, and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Jessica Morffi (Jessica.Morffi@ed.gov) or Sue Rigney (Sue.Rigney@ed.gov) of my staff.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Bobby Jindal
Amendments to Louisiana's Accountability Plan
The following is a summary of Louisiana's amendment requests. Please refer to the Department's website (www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for Louisiana's complete accountability plan.
The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations.
General workbook clarifications (Elements 1.1 and 5.1)
Revision: Louisiana clarified language throughout its workbook to reflect the state's current practice and policy. Louisiana also clarified that subgroup membership is established at the time of assessment, specifically students with disabilities must have an IEP at the time of assessment to be classified in the students with disabilities subgroup.
Inclusion of students with disabilities in adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations (Element 5.3)
Revision: Louisiana will include in AYP determinations for the 2007-08 school year the scores of students with disabilities who are proficient or above (up to a 2.0 percent cap at the district and state levels) on the Louisiana Alternate Assessment 2 (LAA2), an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards.
Please note that approval of this amendment by the Department does not constitute approval of the LAA2 or Louisiana's modified academic achievement standards. In approving this amendment, the Department expresses no opinion on the sufficiency of either the LAA2 or Louisiana's modified academic achievement standards.
Timeline for making AYP determinations (Element 3.2)
Revision: Louisiana will conduct standards setting for its new alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards, the Louisiana Alternate Assessment 1 (LAA1), for reading/language arts and mathematics in 2007-08 in August 2008, with preliminary AYP results to be available no later than October 31, 2008. Therefore, at the beginning of the 2008-09 school year, all schools and districts will have the same AYP status as during the 2007-08 school year. All schools and districts that cannot exit improvement status will implement the appropriate interventions prior to the start of the school year, consistent with section 1116 of ESEA. If these schools and districts do not make AYP based upon the 2007-08 assessment data, they will begin offering the next level of services based on preliminary AYP results. Schools and districts on the "watch list" (i.e., schools and districts that did not make AYP for the first time based upon 2006-07 assessment data) must be notified to plan for the possibility of offering services (i.e., public school choice) and must act immediately on the preliminary building assessment reports. Schools and districts previously identified as in need of improvement that make AYP for the first time will continue to offer the same level of services as in 2007-08. Schools and districts that were previously identified as in need of improvement that made AYP in 2006-07 but do not make AYP in 2007-08 must offer the next level of services based on preliminary AYP results. Schools and districts previously identified as in need of improvement that make AYP for the second consecutive year based upon 2007-08 assessment data will no longer be identified for improvement and no action is required.
The following amendments are not aligned with the statute and regulations and are therefore not approved.
Including all schools (Element 1.1)
The Department cannot approve Louisiana's request to establish a growth measure for use in its alternative schools. Only those states that are approved to participate in the Department's growth model pilot may include a growth model in their AYP determinations. To be approved to participate in the growth model pilot, a state must submit a growth model proposal to the Department for review by the Department and a panel of expert peers. Louisiana has not submitted a growth model proposal for peer review and has not been approved to participate in the growth model pilot. However, as noted in the Secretary's letter of August 18, 2008 (www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/secletter/080818.html), the Department is offering all eligible states an opportunity to submit a proposal to incorporate a measure of individual student academic growth into its accountability system for the 2008-09 school year. All proposals for participation in the growth model pilot are due to the Department by October 15.
Including students with disabilities (Element 5.3)
The Department cannot approve Louisiana's request to exclude from AYP determinations, for the 2007-08 school year, the scores of students assessed on the Louisiana Alternate Assessment (LAA1), an alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards. All students in the grades assessed must be included in annual AYP determinations.