August 5, 2005
Honorable David P. Driscoll
Commissioner of Education
Massachusetts Department of Education
350 Main Street
Malden, Massachusetts 02148-5023
Dear Commissioner Driscoll:
I am writing in response to Massachusetts'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 change you requested is aligned with NCLB and is now included in an amended State accountability plan that Massachusetts submitted to the Department on June 29, 2005. The change is listed in an attachment to this letter.
I would also like to inform you that I have reviewed the information you provided to address the conditions for approval of Massachusetts' accountability plan that were detailed in Eugene Hickok's letter of March 28, 2003, and have determined that Massachusetts has met these conditions. I am pleased to fully approve Massachusetts's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website.
If, over time, Massachusetts makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts's accountability plan is not also an approval of Massachusetts's standards and assessment system. As Massachusetts makes changes in its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts'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 am confident that Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Governor Mitt Romney
Amendment to the Massachusetts Accountability Plan
This attachment is a summary of the amendment. For complete details, please refer to the Massachusetts Accountability plan on the Department's website: ww.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html.
Students with Disabilities included in the definition of adequate yearly progress (Element 5.3)
Revision: Massachusetts will use its own proposal (Option 3 in ED's guidance dated May 10, 2005) to take advantage of the Secretary's flexibility regarding calculating adequate yearly progress (AYP) for the students with disabilities subgroup. Until the regulation is in place, and Massachusetts has implemented an alternate assessment aligned to modified achievement standards, Massachusetts will use certain criteria to determine which students may realistically be assessed with a modified achievement standard, with a limit of 2% of all students possibly being able to meet such criteria. Once AYP decisions are made, any schools or districts that did not make AYP solely on the basis of its SWD subgroup will have those students scores for the SWD subgroup changed from not proficient to proficient. The AYP decisions will then be recalculated.