June 14, 2010
The Honorable Mitchell Chester
Massachusetts Department of Education
75 Pleasant Street
Malden, Massachusetts 02148-4906
Dear Commissioner Chester:
I am writing in response to Massachusetts’ request to amend its state accountability plan under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended. Following discussions between the Department and your staff, you made a change to Massachusetts’ accountability plan, which is now included in the amended state accountability plan that Massachusetts submitted to the Department on April 22, 2010. I am pleased to approve Massachusetts’ amended plan, which we will post on the Department’s website. A summary of Massachusetts’s requested amendment is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend Massachusetts’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 Massachusetts’ accountability plan for Title I, including the amendment 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 Massachusetts 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 the ESEA, please do not hesitate to contact (Victoria.Hammer@ed.gov) or (Clayton.Hollingshead@ed.gov).
Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, Ph.D.
Enclosurecc: Governor Deval Patrick
Amendment to Massachusetts’ Accountability Plan
Including students with disabilities in the state’s definition of adequate yearly progress (AYP) (Element 5.3)
Revision: Massachusetts will comply with the one percentage point cap on the percentage of students that score proficient on the state’s alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards and can be counted as such in AYP determinations by taking the following actions: (1) initially assigning 100 index points only to students scoring Progressing on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt) who have been identified through the state’s data system as having the following primary disability types: Intellectual, Sensory/Deaf and Blind, Multiple Disabilities, Autism, or Developmental Delay; and (2) except as provided below, assigning 75 index points to any student scoring Progressing on the MCAS-Alt who was reported as having the following primary disability types: Sensory/Hard of Hearing or Deaf, Communication, Sensory/Vision Impairment or Blind, Emotional, Physical, Health, Specific Learning Disabilities, or Neurological.
If the number of students with the primary disability types listed in group (1) above scoring Progressing on the MCAS-Alt exceeds 1.0 percent of all students assessed, the state will prioritize amongst those students based on their reported level of need for special education services and, to the extent necessary, based on disability type and/or composite level of complexity score on the MCAS-Alt. If the number of students scoring Progressing on the MCAS-Alt and having a primary disability type of Intellectual, Sensory/Deaf and Blind, Multiple Disabilities, Autism, or Developmental Delay is less than 1.0 percent of all students assessed, Massachusetts will assign 100 index points to students scoring Progressing who have other disability primary types (Sensory/Hard of Hearing or Deaf, Communication, Sensory/Vision Impairment or Blind, Emotional, Physical, Health, Specific Learning Disabilities, and/or Neurological) and a High or Moderate level of need for special education services, up to the 1.0 percent cap.