October 8, 2008
The Honorable Marge Harouff
Nebraska Department of Education
301 Centennial Hall, South, 6th Floor
P.O. Box 94987
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-4987
Dear Deputy Commissioner Harouff:
I am writing in response to Nebraska'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 discussions between the Department and your staff, you made certain changes to Nebraska's accountability plan, which are now included in the amended state accountability plan that Nebraska submitted to the Department on October 7, 2008. I am pleased to approve Nebraska's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website. A summary of Nebraska's requested amendments is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend Nebraska'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 Nebraska'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 Nebraska 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 NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Patrick Rooney (Patrick.Rooney@ed.gov) or Don Watson (Don.Watson@ed.gov) of my staff.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Dave Heineman
Amendments to Nebraska's Accountability Plan
The following is a summary of the state's amendment requests. Please refer to the Department's website (www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for Nebraska's complete accountability plan.
The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations.
General clean-up (Elements 1.2, 1.4, 1.5, 2.1, 2.3, 3.1, 3.2, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, 6.1, 7.2, 9.2, and 9.3)
Revision: Nebraska made several non-substantive changes throughout its workbook.
Including all schools in AYP determinations (Element 1.2)
Revision: Nebraska clarified that, due to the consolidation of districts in 2006, all the previously small elementary-only districts are now part of a K-12 school system. Each district receives a STARS student performance and a quality of assessment rating. Any school with fewer than 10 students will be held to the school improvement status of its district.
Calculating AYP (Element 3.2)
Revision: Nebraska clarified that the process for calculating Safe Harbor will take into account progress on the "Other Academic Indicator" for subgroups within a school or district. Graduation data will be collected to ensure that Safe Harbor can be applied at the high school level whenever a subgroup is eligible.
Including limited English proficient (LEP) students in adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations (Elements 5.2 and 5.4)
Revision: Nebraska will allow districts, in making AYP determinations for the LEP subgroup, to include, for an additional two years, former LEP students who have exited from LEP services or from the district's LEP program.
Revision: Nebraska will allow districts to exclude the assessment results of recently arrived LEP students (students who have attended schools in the United States for less than 12 months) on the state's reading and mathematics assessments from one cycle of AYP determinations. The students will be counted as participants provided they take the reading and mathematics assessments and meet the state requirements for the participation rate calculation.
Graduation rate (Element 7.1)
Revision: Nebraska clarified that, for those districts with multiple high schools, it will collect school-level graduation data in order to calculate the school-level graduation rate for use in AYP determinations.
Participation rate calculation (Element 10.1)
Revision: Nebraska notes that it has a new data system in place, the Nebraska Student Staff Record System (NSSRS), beginning in 2007-08. As a result, the participation rate will be calculated so that the count of not assessed students will be taken from the total of all students enrolled on the last day of the school year and reported on the "Student Snapshot" (due on June 30) as having:
- Parent waivers;
- Unapproved modifications or out-of-level assessments; or
- Designations of "N" (Not Assessed) for all achievement levels on every standard. A student's achievement level is a required field for each standard reported for each student. The possible achievement level designations are: 1 - Beginning; 2 - Progressing; 3 - Proficient; 4 - Advanced; M - Moved; and N - Not assessed.