July 30, 2004
Honorable Mike Ward
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
6314 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-6314
Dear Superintendent Ward:
I am writing in response to North Carolina'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 North Carolina submitted to the Department on July 8, 2004. A list of the changes is enclosed with this letter. I am pleased to fully approve North Carolina's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website.
If, over time, North Carolina makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, North Carolina 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 North Carolina's accountability plan is not also an approval of North Carolina's standards and assessment system. As North Carolina makes changes in its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, North Carolina 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 North Carolina'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 North Carolina's students and schools and that will lead to improving the academic achievement of all students. 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.
I wish you well in your school improvement efforts. If I can be of any additional assistance to North Carolina in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
cc: Governor Mike Easley
Amendments to the North Carolina Accountability Plan
These statements are summaries of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the North Carolina Accountability plan on the Department’s website: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html
Minimum group sizes
Revision: North Carolina's group size will be as follows: 40 students or 1%, whichever is greater.
Identification of districts for improvement
Revision: North Carolina 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 school) 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).
Small school AYP and Schools without tested grades
Revision: North Carolina has offered a new process for making adequate yearly progress determinations in schools without at least two students enrolled for a full academic year. The review will entail an on-site visit from the School Improvement Division.