September 9, 2004
Honorable D. Kent King
Commissioner of Education
Missouri Department of Elementary
& Secondary Education
205 Jefferson Street, 6th Floor
Jefferson City, Missouri 65102
Dear Commissioner King:
I am writing in response to Missouri'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). Following our discussions with your staff, those changes that are aligned with NCLB are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Missouri submitted to the Department on September 7, 2004. I am pleased to approve Missouri's amendments. A list of the changes is attached to this letter. We will post Missouri's amended plan on the Department's website.
This letter also documents one aspect of Missouri's amendments for which final action is still needed. Missouri wishes to apply a confidence interval to safe harbor determinations. Missouri may use this statistical test (limited to a 75% confidence interval) for making adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations this school year. We request, however, that Missouri provide impact data from the 2003-2004 AYP data regarding the use of this statistical test for "safe harbor" when available. These data will provide valuable information regarding this particular aspect of the accountability system.
If, over time, Missouri makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, Missouri 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 Missouri's accountability plan is not also an approval of Missouri's standards and assessment system. As Missouri makes changes in its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, Missouri 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 Missouri'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 hope that you have found the accountability plan amendment process effective for implementing a State accountability system that best serves the needs of Missouri's students and schools and that will lead to improving the academic achievement of all students. As evidenced by the diversity among State accountability plans and State consolidated applications, States have great flexibility in the design of their systems and implementation of particular NCLB provisions. If, as you implement your accountability plan, you find additional elements of your plan that you believe should be refined or amended for next school year to best serve the needs of your students and schools, I encourage you to explore all the areas of flexibility available to your State.
In addition to the flexibility available to States in the design and implementation of their accountability plans, I also encourage you and your districts to utilize the additional flexibility available for the administration and operation of NCLB programs. NCLB continued the flexibility available to States and districts under the 1994 reauthorization of the ESEA, including the ability to consolidate State and local administrative funds (sections 9201 and 9203), to operate schoolwide programs (section 1114), and to participate in the Education Flexibility Partnership Program ("Ed-Flex"). Additionally, NCLB created several new flexibility options for States and districts for the operation of federal programs. These new flexibility provisions include the State Flexibility Authority (sections 6141 through 6144), the Local Flexibility Demonstration program (sections 6151 through 6156), Transferability (sections 6121 through 6123), and the Rural Education Achievement program (sections 6201 through 6234). These flexibilities truly offer States and districts the ability to target federal resources to their unique and individual needs.
I am confident that Missouri 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 Missouri in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
cc: Governor Bob Holden
Amendments to the Missouri Accountability PlanThese statements are summaries of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the Missouri Accountability plan on the Department's website: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html.
Confidence Intervals (Element 3.2)
Revision: Missouri will use a minimum group size of 30 for all student subgroups, except students with disabilities and limited English proficient students, and apply a 99% confidence interval to AYP decisions, except for in applying the "safe harbor" process in which a 75% confidence interval will be used. Missouri will use a group size of 50 and no confidence interval for the students with disabilities and limited English proficient subgroups. Missouri will provide data regarding how the confidence interval is applied to "safe harbor" determinations of AYP.
Identification of districts for improvement (Elements 4.1)
Revision: Missouri will identify districts for improvement only when they do not make AYP in the same subject and all grade spans (i.e., elementary, middle, and high schools) for two consecutive years. In implementing this provision, States 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 supplemental services are available to eligible students from a variety of providers throughout the state (including in LEAs that have not been identified for improvement but that have schools that have been in improvement for more than one year).
Participation rate (Element 10.1)
Request: Missouri will adopt the new flexibility regarding multi-year averaging of participation rate.