August 25, 2005
Honorable William L. Librera
Commissioner of Education
New Jersey Department of Education
100 River View Plaza
P.O. Box 500
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0500
Dear Commissioner Librera:
I am writing in response to New Jersey'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). The changes you requested are aligned with NCLB and are now included in an amended State accountability plan that New Jersey submitted to the Department on August 22, 2005. The changes are listed in an attachment to this letter. I am pleased to fully approve New Jersey's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website.
If, over time, New Jersey makes additional changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, New Jersey must submit information about those changes to the Department for review and approval, as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I. Please note that approval of New Jersey's accountability plan is not also an approval of New Jersey’s standards and assessment system. As New Jersey makes changes in its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, New Jersey 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 New Jersey'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 am confident that New Jersey 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 New Jersey in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Governor James E. McGreevey
Amendments to the New Jersey Accountability Plan
This attachment is a summary of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the New Jersey accountability plan on the Department's website: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html.
Determining improvement status for districts (Critical Elements 1.2 and 4.1)
Revision: New Jersey added language to Element 1.2 that was already approved in Element 4.1. New Jersey will identify a district as in need of improvement when it fails to make AYP for two consecutive years in the same content (subject) area in all elementary, middle and high school grade levels.
Revision: New Jersey clarified that it will prioritize the technical assistance provided to districts identified for improvement using a triage approach to help those districts most in need of assistance. The SEA will use two additional criteria ((1) 50% of the schools within a district have not met AYP, and less than 90% of the measured AYP indicators in all schools across the district are met) to identify which districts will receive priority consideration for technical assistance from the SEA. In all instances, the required NCLB interventions will be assigned to districts identified as being in need of improvement.
State report card (Element 1.5)
Revision: New Jersey will not merge the State report card and the NCLB report card at this time.
Full academic year (Element 2.3)
Revision: New Jersey clarified that students enrolled "after July 1" (as opposed to “July 1 or after”) of any given school year will be considered to have been enrolled less than one full academic year.
Amend official administration date of high school test (Elements 3.1 and 3.2b)
Revision: New Jersey amended the official administration date for the high school graduation test from spring of grade 11 to spring of grade 12. Individual scores from any earlier administration (four attempts permitted) will be "banked" and counted for AYP.
Revision: New Jersey clarified that the high school annual measurable objectives apply to grade 12 rather than grade 11.
Revision: New Jersey clarified the method for calculating and making AYP decisions for schools with multiple tested grades. AYP will be calculated by aggregating across grades.
Apply rounding rule to calculation of AYP (Element 4.1)
Revision: New Jersey will round AYP calculations to the nearest whole number.
Adjustments to calculation of graduation rate (Elements 7.1 and 7.2)
Revision: New Jersey clarified several details related to calculation of graduation rate:
- The 4-year graduation rate will take effect in 2005-06 (rather than 2004-05) and New Jersey will continue to use drop-out rate as an interim measure.
- On a case-by-case basis, New Jersey will allow up to 6 years for the following students to graduate and be included in the graduation rate: limited English proficient students who entered U.S. as high school students, students with disabilities if a regular diploma and additional time for graduation is specified in their IEP, and students that have extended periods of approved medical leave which necessitate more time for them to earn the required credits toward a high school diploma.
- The threshold for graduation rate will be the current state average, but not less than 90%.
Clarification regarding students with medical emergency and AYP (Element 10.1)
Revision: New Jersey clarified the definition of medical emergency and that absent or untested students with medical emergencies will be exempt from the assessment system and not included in the denominator for calculating participation rate.