May 19, 2009
The Honorable Richard P. Mills
New York State Education Department
111 Education Building
Albany, New York 12234
Dear Commissioner Mills:
On behalf of Secretary Duncan, I want to thank you for your hard work in implementing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). As you may know, the Secretary is traveling the country and listening to states, districts, and other stakeholders talk about the ways in which the ESEA can be improved. These conversations will inform the next reauthorization of the statute. In the meantime, we will push towards our reform goals under the authority of, and in accordance with, the existing statute and regulations.
Specifically, I am writing in response to New York's request to amend its state accountability plan under Title I of the ESEA. Following discussions between the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) and your staff, you made a change to New York's accountability plan, which is now included in the amended state accountability plan that New York submitted to the Department on March 16, 2009. I am pleased to approve New York's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website. A summary of New York's requested amendment is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend New York'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 New York's accountability plan for Title I, including the amendment 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 New York 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 the ESEA, please do not hesitate to contact Victoria Hammer (Victoria.Hammer@ed.gov) or Sharon Hall (Sharon.Hall@ed.gov) of my staff.
Joseph C. Conaty
cc: Governor David Paterson David Abrams Ira Schwartz
Amendment to New York's Accountability Plan
The following is a summary of New York's amendment request. Please refer to the Department's website (http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for New York's complete accountability plan.
The following amendment is aligned with the statute and regulations:
Including students with disabilities in adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations (Element 5.3)
Revision: New York will use the "proxy method" (option 1 in the Department's guidance dated December 2005) to take advantage of the transition flexibility offered by the Department pursuant to its authority under 34 C.F.R. § 200.20(g) (see http://www.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/modachieve-summary.html) for calculating AYP for the students with disabilities subgroup for the 2008–09 school year. If a school or district misses AYP solely on the basis of the students with disabilities subgroup, a proxy of students with disabilities equivalent to 2.0 percent of all students assessed will be added to the actual percentage of students with disabilities in the school or district that was proficient or advanced. New York will then use this adjusted percent proficient to re-examine whether the school or district made AYP for the 2008–09 school year. The actual percentage proficient will be reported to parents and the public. New York is approved to implement this flexibility in grades 3-8 and high school.