July 20, 2006
The Honorable June St. Clair Atkinson
Superintendent of Public Instruction
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
301 North Wilmington Street
Raleigh, North Carolina 27601-2825
Dear Superintendent Atkinson:
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 of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Following our discussions with your staff, the changes that are aligned with NCLB are now included in an amended State accountability plan that North Carolina submitted to the Department on July 12, 2006. I am pleased to fully approve North Carolina's plan, which will be posted on the Department's website. A summary of the approved amendments is enclosed with this letter.
As you know, any further requests to amend the North Carolina accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I. I would also like to commend you again for meeting the requirements of NCLB and having a fully approved assessment system. North Carolina must continue to provide information to the Department for peer review as it continues to develop its standards and assessments.
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.
NCLB has provided a vehicle for States to raise the achievement of all students and to close the achievement gap. We are seeing the results of our combined endeavor; achievement is rising throughout the nation. I appreciate North Carolina's efforts to raise the achievement of all students and hold all schools accountable. If you need any additional assistance to implement the standards, assessments, and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Patrick Rooney (Patrick.Rooney@ed.gov) or Zollie Stevenson (Zollie.Stevenson@ed.gov) of my staff.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Governor Michael Easley
Amendments to the North Carolina accountability plan
The following is a summary of the State's approved amendments. Please refer to the Department's website (refer to: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for the complete North Carolina accountability plan.
Timely adequate yearly progress (AYP) reporting (Element 1.4)
Revision: North Carolina will report AYP results for the assessments in the 2005–06 school year under a staggered schedule. The State will report all high school AYP results and elementary and middle school AYP reading/language arts results by June 30. Due to the implementation of a new mathematics assessment and subsequent standards setting, the State will not report elementary and middle school AYP mathematics results until October. Consequently, AYP determinations for elementary and middle schools and local educational agencies (LEAs) based upon reading/language arts results will be made in July. The State will prioritize AYP mathematics calculations for those schools that are on the State "watch list," (i.e., those schools and districts that have failed to make AYP for at least one year). Schools and districts that are identified for improvement based upon the 2005–06 mathematics results will begin offering interventions immediately based upon the preliminary data released in October.
Growth model to determine AYP (Element 3.2)
Revision: As approved by the Department through a flexibility agreement, North Carolina will implement a growth model as a means of determining AYP for schools and districts. For details regarding the proposal, including the approval letter, refer to: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/growthmodel/nc/index.html.
Including students with disabilities in AYP determinations (Element 5.3)
Revision: North Carolina will implement the Secretary's flexibility regarding modified academic achievement standards (refer to: www.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/secletter/051214a.html). North Carolina will include as proficient (up to a 2.0 percent cap at the district and State level) students who take the North Carolina EXTEND2 assessment, which assesses grade-level academic standards and is based on modified achievement standards. Please note that approval of this amendment by the Department does not constitute approval of the NCEXTEND2 assessment by the Department as part of our responsibility to ensure that State standards and assessment systems meet NCLB requirements.
Identification of LEAs for improvement (Element 5.5)
Revision: North Carolina will identify districts for improvement only when they do not make AYP in the same subject or other indicator in all grade spans (i.e., elementary, middle school and high school) for two consecutive years. In implementing this provision, North Carolina 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 that 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)
Revision: North Carolina clarifies the calculation of participation rates, including that students with invalid assessment scores are counted as non-participants.