June 17, 2008
The Honorable Nancy Grasmick
State Superintendent of Schools
Maryland State Department of Education
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Dear Superintendent Grasmick:
I am writing in response to Maryland'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 Maryland's accountability plan, which are now included in the amended state accountability plan that Maryland submitted to the Department on June 5, 2008. I am pleased to fully approve Maryland's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website. A summary of the amendments submitted for the 2007-08 school year is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend the Maryland 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 Maryland'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 Maryland will continue to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. I wish you well in your school improvement efforts. If you need any additional assistance in implementing the standards, assessment, and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Patrick Rooney (Patrick.Rooney@ed.gov) or Valeria Ford (Valeria.Ford@ed.gov) of my staff.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Martin O'Malley
Amendments to Maryland's Accountability Plan
The following is a summary of the state's amendment requests. Please refer to the Department's website (www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for Maryland's complete Accountability Plan.
The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations:
Calculating AYP for high schools (Element 3.1)
Revision: Maryland will "bank" scores of students taking the high school test. For the 2007-08 school year, Maryland will use the best results on the high school assessment among all 11th-graders when calculating AYP for high schools. Beginning in the 2008-09 school year, Maryland will use the best results on the high school assessment among all 12th-graders.
Including students with disabilities in AYP (Element 5.3)
Revision: Maryland will include in AYP determinations for the 2007-08 school year the scores of high school students with disabilities who are proficient or above (up to a 2.0 percent cap at the district and state levels) on the Mod-MSA, an alternate assessment for high school students based on modified academic achievement standards.
Please note that approval of this amendment by the Department does not constitute approval of the Mod-MSA or the Maryland modified academic achievement standards. In approving this amendment, the Department expresses no opinion on the sufficiency of either the Mod-MSA or Maryland's modified academic achievement standards. Approval of the Mod-MSA and modified academic achievement standards will continue to be handled through the assessment peer review process that is separate and distinct from the amendment approval process.
For 2007-08, Maryland will use the transition flexibility (option 3 in our guidance dated December 2005) regarding calculating AYP for the students with disabilities subgroup as authorized by 34 C.F.R. § 200.20(g) www.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/modachieve-summary.html.). For schools that do not make AYP based solely on the students with disabilities subgroup, school Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams will review individual students' IEPs to affirm the identity of those students who might have received proficient scores on a modified assessment if one had been available. Maryland will cap student eligibility at 2.0 percent of all students assessed at the state and district level. At the high school level, because Maryland first administered its Mod-MSA in spring 2008, this transition flexibility will be used only for those students whose IEP indicates the student would be eligible for an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards but who took the high school assessment at an earlier testing window than spring 2008.
Maryland will include students no longer receiving special education and related services in the students with disabilities subgroup for two additional years when determining the proficiency rates of that subgroup for AYP determinations.
Inclusion of science assessments (Element 6.1)
Beginning in spring 2008, Maryland administered science assessments and an alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards in grades 5, 8, and high school. The high school science assessment is biology.
Use of AP and IB exams as substitutes for the high school science assessment (Element 6.1)
Revision: Maryland is granted the flexibility, under section 9401 of the ESEA, for the 2007-08 school year to include students who score a 3 or higher on the Advanced Placement (AP) biology exam or a score of 5 or higher on the International Baccalaureate (IB) Biology SL or Biology HL exams as substitutes for the state high school science assessment.
The Department recognizes that the AP and IB exams are of high quality and are tied to specific college-level course content. This flexibility agreement will permit Maryland to use the results of the AP and IB assessments in AYP calculations, thereby offering an assessment of college-level course content which may not in every case cover the full breadth of the Maryland high school content standards as required under 34 C.F.R. 200.3(a)(1)(i). Accordingly, the Department grants this one-year flexibility to Maryland while the Department reviews the evidence submitted on May 14, 2008, regarding whether the alignment of the AP and IB exams meets or exceeds the state science course content standards and whether the proposed proficiency scores are sufficient to ensure the student has met the state achievement standards.
As required by section 9401(b)(3)(A) of the ESEA, within 30 days of the date of this letter, Maryland must provide all interested school districts with notice of this flexibility agreement and a reasonable opportunity to comment, submit any comments to the Secretary, and provide notice and information to the public about its use of the AP and IB assessments in the manner in which it customarily provides similar notice to the public. Maryland must also submit a report under section 9401(e)(1) of the ESEA to the Department after it makes AYP determinations based on assessments administered in the 2007-08 school year that describes its use of the AP and IB assessments.