June 29, 2005
Honorable Henry L. Johnson
Superintendent of Education
Mississippi State Department of Education
P. O. Box 771
Jackson, MS 39205-0771
Dear Superintendent Johnson:
I am writing in response to Mississippi'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 changes you requested are aligned with NCLB and are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Mississippi submitted to the Department on June 27, 2005. The changes are listed in an attachment to this letter. I am pleased to fully approve Mississippi's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website.
If, over time, Mississippi makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, Mississippi 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 Mississippi's accountability plan is not also an approval of Mississippi's standards and assessment system. As Mississippi makes changes in its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, Mississippi 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 Mississippi'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 Mississippi 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 Mississippi in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
cc: Governor Haley Barbour
Amendments to the Mississippi Accountability Plan
This attachment is a summary of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the Mississippi Accountability plan on the Department's website: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html.
Calculating AYP with a proficiency index (Element 1.3)
Revision: Mississippi will modify the reading/language arts and mathematics proficiency indexes in the State's AYP model to one where students scoring proficient or advanced will contribute a value of 1 to the proficiency index, students scoring basic will contribute 0.5, and students scoring minimal will contribute 0. Based on earlier guidance from the Department, students in the advanced level will continue to contribute the same value as those scoring in the proficient level to ensure that higher performing students do not inflate the proficiency index values or mask the performance of lower achieving students.
Confidence interval (Element 3.1)
Revision: Mississippi will change from a 95% confidence interval to a 99% confidence interval around the subgroup level proficiency indexes.
Including students with disabilities in adequate yearly progress (Element 3.1)
Revision: Mississippi will use the "proxy method" (Option 1 in ED's guidance dated May 7, 2005) to take advantage of the Secretary's flexibility regarding modified academic achievement standards. Mississippi will calculate a proxy to determine the percentage of special education students that is equivalent to 2.0 percent of all students assessed. For this year only, this proxy will then be added to the percent of students with disabilities who are proficient. For any school or district that did not make AYP solely due to its students with disabilities subgroup, Mississippi will use this adjusted percent proficient to reexamine if the school or district made AYP for the 2004-05 school year.
LEA identification (Element 3.2)
Revision: Mississippi will identify districts for improvement only when they do not make AYP in the same subject or other academic indicator in all three grade spans (i.e., elementary, middle, and high schools) for two consecutive years.