August 17, 2004
Honorable Wayne G. Sanstead
Superintendent of Public Instruction
North Dakota Department of Public Instruction
State Capitol Building, 11th Floor
600 Boulevard Avenue, East
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505-0440
Dear Superintendent Sanstead:
I am writing in response to North Dakota'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 Dakota submitted to the Department on August 3, 2004. A list of the changes is enclosed with this letter. I am pleased to fully approve North Dakota's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website.
If, over time, North Dakota makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, North Dakota 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 Dakota's accountability plan is not also an approval of North Dakota's standards and assessment system. As North Dakota makes changes in its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, North Dakota 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 Dakota'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 Dakota'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 North Dakota 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 North Dakota in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
Cc: Governor John Hoeven
Amendments to North Dakota's Accountability Plan
These statements are summaries of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the North Dakota Accountability plan on the Department's website:www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html.
Amendment to determine AYP based on achievement of students served or eligible to receive services in a targeted assistance school (Elements 1.2)
Revision: North Dakota incorporated the election of a local school district to determine adequate yearly progress for a Title I targeted assistance school based solely on the achievement of students who are served by Title I or who are eligible to receive Title I services.
Amendment for "full academic year" (Element 2.2)
Revision: North Dakota defines a "full academic year" to include a student who has been enrolled at a school or within a local education agency for a period equal to or exceeding 173 instructional days.
Assessing LEP students (Element 5.4)
Revision: North Dakota indicates they will apply the flexibility recently offered by the Department with respect to the assessment of new limited English proficient (LEP) students and the extended classification of LEP students for two years beyond program status for the purposes of determining adequate yearly progress.
Calculation of Graduation Rate (Element 7.1)
Revision: In calculating graduation rate, North Dakota will count as graduates within the standard number of years students with disabilities and limited English proficient students who graduate within the extended graduation schedule set forth in their individualized education plans developed by their IEP team or LEP service team.
Participation Rate (Element 10.2)
Revision: For calculating participation rate, North Dakota will apply the flexibility regarding students who are unable to participate due to significant medical emergencies, and will use multi-year averaging.