June 4, 2009
The Honorable Denise Juneau
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Montana Office of Public Instruction
1227 11th Avenue
Helena, Montana 59620-2501
Dear Commissioner Juneau:
On behalf of Secretary Duncan, I want to thank you for your hard work in implementing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). As you may know, the Secretary is traveling the country and listening to representatives from states and school districts, as well as other stakeholders, to talk about the ways in which the ESEA can be improved. These conversations will inform the next reauthorization of the statute. In the meantime, we will push towards our reform goals under the authority of, and in accordance with, the existing statute and regulations.
I am writing in response to Montana's request to amend its state accountability plan under Title I of the ESEA. Following discussions between the Department and your staff, you made two changes to Montana’s accountability plan, which are now included in the amended state accountability plan that Montana submitted to the Department on May 4, 2009. I am pleased to approve Montana's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website. A summary of Montana's requested amendments is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend Montana'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 Montana'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 Montana 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 (Vicki.Robinson@ed.gov) or (Collette.Roney@ed.gov) of my staff.
Joseph C. Conaty
cc: Governor Brian Schweitzer
Amendments to Montana's Accountability Plan
The following is a summary of Montana's amendment requests. Please refer to the Department's website (http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for Montana’s complete accountability plan.
The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations.
Including students with disabilities in adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations (Element 5.3)
Revision: Montana will use the "proxy method" (option 1 in the Department's guidance dated December 2005 and described in the Department's Non-Regulatory Guidance regarding Modified Academic Achievement Standards) to take advantage of the transition flexibility authorized by 34 C.F.R. § 200.20(g) regarding calculating AYP for the students with disabilities subgroup. See the guidance at: http://www.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/modachieve-summary.html. Montana will calculate a proxy to determine the percentage of students with disabilities that is equivalent to two percent of all students assessed. For the 2008-09 school year only, this proxy will then be added to the percentage 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, Montana will use this adjusted percentage proficient to re-examine whether the school or district made AYP for the 2008–09 school year.
Revision: Montana clarified that it does not include the scores of students who were formerly categorized as students with disabilities in AYP calculations for the students with disabilities subgroup.