January 4, 2005
Honorable Veronica C. Garcia
Secretary of Education
State of New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
Dear Secretary Garcia:
I am writing in response to New Mexico'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 New Mexico submitted to the Department in October 2004. I am pleased to approve New Mexico's amendments. A list of the changes is attached to this letter. If, over time, New Mexico wishes to make additional changes to its accountability plan, New Mexico must submit information about those changes to the Department for review and approval, as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I.
We will post New Mexico's amended plan on the Department's website. Additionally, based on information you have provided us, regarding the actions taken by New Mexico to finalize certain elements in its accountability plan required under NCLB, New Mexico has met those conditions of approval that were detailed in Eugene W. Hickok's July 1, 2003 letter to New Mexico.
As was the subject Secretary Rod Paige's October 1, 2004 correspondence with you, New Mexico's use of the norm-referenced Supera assessment for some fourth and eighth grade students in calculating adequate yearly progress (AYP) for the 2003-2004 school year was not acceptable. Final approval of New Mexico's accountability plan depends on the resolution of this issue and New Mexico's full compliance with section 1111 of the ESEA as amended by NCLB.
I am confident that New Mexico 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 Mexico in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
cc: Bill Richardson
Amendments to the New Mexico Accountability Plan
These statements are summaries of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the New Mexico Accountability plan on the Department's website: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html
Schools without Tested Grades (Elements 1.1 and 1.2)
Revision: For 2003-2004, New Mexico schools that contain some configuration of grades K-2 will be assigned the grade 4 data from the primary feeder schools "backwards" based on the New Mexico Standards Based Assessments for the determination of AYP. Beginning in 2004-2005, New Mexico schools that contain some configuration of grades K-2 will be assigned the grade 3 data from the primary feeder schools "backwards" based on the New Mexico Standards Based Assessments for the determination of AYP.
Academic Achievement Levels (Element 1.3)
Revision: New Mexico will set achievement standards for the State's new criterion-referenced assessments in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11 during the 2004-2005 school year and prior to the release of the assessment results and the calculation of AYP in August 2005.
Full Academic Year (Element 2.2)
Revision: New Mexico will apply a definition of full academic year that is based on enrollment from test administration to test administration.
AYP Determinations, Starting Points, Annual Measurable Objectives, Intermediate Goals (Elements 3.1, 3.2, 3.2a, 3.2b, 3.2c, 4.1, 6.1)
Revision: For 2003-2004, AYP determinations will be calculated using results from grades 4, 8, and 11 standards-based assessments. Beginning with the 2004-2005 school year and the implementation of new standards-based assessments, AYP will be calculated using the results from the Standards Based Assessment in each of grades 3 through 9 and 11. In the Spring of 2005, New Mexico will implement new Standards Based Assessments in Grades 3 through 9 in the spring of 2005, and New Mexico will move its 11th grades Standards Based Assessment from the fall to the spring in the 2004-2005 school year. The addition of new assessments will necessitate a recalibration in the proficiency trajectories for reading/language arts and mathematics. New Mexico will apply the methodology prescribed in federal legislation for annual measurable objectives and intermediate goals, ensuring that all students are proficient by 2013-2014.
Use of an Index (Element 3.2b)
Revision: New Mexico will apply a weighted indices model to demonstrate a school's improvement with students at all performance levels. This requires the ultimate achievement of 100% of all students proficient or advanced by 2014. However, it also recognizes schools as they move students out of the lowest performance categories to higher performance categories. The following criteria are applied to the weighted indices: 1) the index as applied does not give extra weight to students scoring above proficiency so as to mask performance in the lower achievement levels; 2) the index can be calculated separately for reading and mathematics and for each relevant student subgroup; 3) the index does not allow schools to make AYP without also increasing the percent of students who are proficient; and 4) the index is reflective of the annual measurable objectives and intermediate goals.
Students with Disabilities (Element 5.3)
Revision: New Mexico will implement the provisions of the final regulation in the Federal Register issued December 9, 2003, concerning the 1.0% cap for alternate assessments and alternate achievement standards.
Limited English Proficient Students (Element 5.4)
Revision: New Mexico will implement the flexibility that the Secretary's letter of February 20, 2004 provides relative to limited English proficient students for assessment and accountability purposes.
Additional Academic Indicators (Element 7.2)
Revision: New Mexico will use only one additional academic indicator at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Attendance rate will be used at the elementary and middle school levels as the additional academic indicator and graduation rate will be used at the high school level as the additional academic indicator.
Use of Confidence Interval (Element 9.2)
Revision: New Mexico will use a group size of 25 and a 99% confidence interval in making AYP reading/language arts and mathematics proficiency calculations. New Mexico will only apply a confidence interval to AYP status determinations and not to safe harbor calculations.
Participation rate (Elements 10.1 and 10.2)
Request: New Mexico will use a group size of 40 for calculating the participation rate. Additionally, beginning with 2004-2005 school year tests administrations, New Mexico will use the new flexibility regarding multi-year averaging of participation rates.