September 1, 2005
Dr. Veronica C. Garcia
Secretary of Education
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786
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). The changes you requested are aligned with NCLB and are now included in an amended State accountability plan that New Mexico submitted to the Department on August 22, 2005. The change is listed in an attachment to this letter. I am pleased to fully approve New Mexico's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website.
If, over time, New Mexico makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, 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. Approval of New Mexico's accountability plan is not also an approval of New Mexico's standards and assessment system. As New Mexico makes changes in its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, New Mexico 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 Mexico'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 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.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Governor Bill Richardson
Amendments to the New Mexico Accountability Plan
This attachment is a summary 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.
Include students with disabilities in adequate yearly progress (Element 5.3)
Revision: New Mexico will use the "proxy method" (Option 1 in our guidance dated May 7, 2005) to take advantage of the Secretary's flexibility regarding calculating adequate yearly progress for students with disabilities. New Mexico will calculate a proxy to determine the percentage of students with disabilities that is equivalent to 2.0 percent of all students assessed. For this year only, this proxy will then be added to the percent of students with disabilities who are proficient. This adjusted percent proficient is what a State may use to reexamine if the school or district made AYP for the 2004-05 school year. This amendment applies only to elementary and middle schools; high schools are not eligible for this flexibility.
Changes in content standards and academic assessments (Element 3.2)
Revision: In the spring of 2005, New Mexico implemented a new Standards Based Assessment in Grades 3 through 9, and moved its 11th grade assessments from the fall to the spring in the 2004-2005 school year. As a result of the new assessments, New Mexico recalibrated the starting points, annual measurable objectives and intermediate goals for reading/language arts and mathematics. New Mexico used the new starting points to make adequate yearly progress determinations for schools and districts in the 2005-2006 school year.
District identification for improvement (Element 3.1)
Revision: New Mexico will identify districts for improvement only when they do not make AYP in the same subject or additional indicator and in all three grade spans (elementary, middle and high school) for two consecutive years. In implementing this provision, New Mexico 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 supplemental services are available to eligible students from a variety of providers throughout the state (including in districts that have not been identified for improvement but that have schools that have been in improvement for more than one year).
Graduation rate for students with disabilities (Element 7.1)
Revision: New Mexico will count students with disabilities as graduating on time with a regular diploma if the student's individualized educational plan calls for extra years of high school beyond the traditional four years (or beyond the age of eighteen).