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Decision Letter on Request to Amend Oklahoma Accountability Plan

June 8, 2007

The Honorable Sandy Garrett
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Oklahoma State Department of Education
Hodge Education Building
2500 North Lincoln Boulevard
Oklahoma City, OK 73105-4599

Dear Superintendent Garrett:

I am writing in response to Oklahoma'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 our discussions with your staff, the approved changes are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Oklahoma submitted to the Department on June 5, 2007, which we will post on the Department's website. A summary of the amendments submitted for the 2006-07 school year is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend the Oklahoma accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I.

Please also be aware that approval of Oklahoma'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 Oklahoma 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 you need any additional assistance in your efforts to implement the standards, assessment, and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Catherine Freeman (catherine.freeman@ed.gov) or Grace Ross (grace.ross@ed.gov) my staff.

Sincerely,

Kerri L. Briggs, Ph. D.
Acting Assistant Secretary

Enclosure

cc: Governor Brad Henry
Jennifer Stegman


Amendments to the Oklahoma 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 the complete Oklahoma accountability plan.

Acceptable amendments

The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations.

Determining improvement status for schools and districts (Element 3.2)

Oklahoma clarified the criteria for a school site or district to exit school improvement. A school or district that makes adequate yearly progress (AYP) for two consecutive years in the same subject or performance indicator for which it was identified will no longer be identified as a school improvement school/district, provided it has not failed to make AYP for two consecutive years in a different subject or performance indicator.

Including students with disabilities (Element 5.3)

Oklahoma will take advantage of the interim flexibility regarding determining AYP for the students with disabilities subgroup, using option 2 in our guidance (refer to: www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/secletter/070207.html). Schools and districts will include as proficient (up to a 2.0 percent cap at the district and State level) students who take the Oklahoma alternate assessment based upon modified academic achievement standards. Please note that approval of this amendment does not constitute approval of Oklahoma's alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards; such assessment as well as Oklahoma's modified academic achievement standards must be submitted to the Department's standards and assessment peer review process. In addition, pursuant to the Department's April 9 regulations, by the 2007-08 school year, Oklahoma must adopt a single minimum group size for all subgroups, including the "all students" group, when calculating the percentage of students who are proficient.

Graduation rate (Element 7.1)

In order to encourage schools to meet the goal of a 100 percent graduation rate by 2013-14, Oklahoma has amended its graduation rate benchmarks. The benchmark will remain at 68.7 percent for the 2006-07 through 2009-10 school years; increase to 82.4 percent beginning with the 2010-11 through 2012-13 school years; and increase to 100 percent for the 2013-14 school year. A school or district's graduation rate must meet or exceed the scheduled benchmark or increase over the previous year's graduation rate in order for the school or district to make AYP.

Unacceptable amendment

The following amendment is not aligned with the statute and regulations and is therefore not approved.

Determining improvement status for schools and districts (Element 3.2)

The Department cannot approve Oklahoma's request to identify schools and districts as in need of improvement only if the same subgroup fails to make AYP for two consecutive years in the same subject. Section 1116(b)(1) of Title I requires a State to identify for school improvement any Title I school that fails, for two consecutive years, to make AYP as defined under section 1111(b)(2). There is flexibility in section 1111(b)(2) to permit a State to determine schools in need of improvement on the basis of not making AYP in the same subject for two consecutive years. This flexibility stems from other provisions in the statute that treat reading and mathematics independently (e.g., separate starting points and annual measurable objectives). These provisions recognize that student achievement in reading and mathematics in a State may be starting at very different points and thus the State would need to establish different trajectories to attain 100 percent proficiency. Concomitantly, it makes sense to permit a State to identify schools in need of improvement based on not making AYP for two years in the same subject. Subgroups, on the other hand, are not treated differently in the statute and thus the statute does not support similar flexibility to identify schools in need of improvement on the basis of "same subgroup" performance for two consecutive years. Moreover, this is inconsistent with the statute's accountability provisions in section 1111(b)(2)(C), which require that each subgroup meet the State's annual objectives in each subject each year. The intent of school identification is not to lay blame on a particular group of students, as the "same subgroup/same subject" proposal would do, but to identify the instructional and academic areas that need to be improved. A school that is identified for improvement should look to specific instructional remedies in the subject area, other indicator, or participation rate that resulted in its identification.

Decision Letters on State Accountability Plans


 
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Last Modified: 06/18/2007