June 5, 2006
Dr. Gerald L. Zahorchak
Secretary of Education
Pennsylvania Department of Education
333 Market Street
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17126
Dear Secretary Zahorchak:
I am writing in response to Pennsylvania'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, I am pleased to approve the amendment that is aligned with NCLB; the revised and fully approved plan will be posted on the Department's website. A summary of the approved amendment is enclosed with this letter.
I would like to reiterate that any further requests to amend the Pennsylvania accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I. Please note that approval of Pennsylvania's accountability plan does not constitute approval of the State's standards and assessment system. Pennsylvania must continue to provide information to the Department for peer review as it continues to develop its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB.
Please also be aware that approval of Pennsylvania's accountability plan for Title I, including the amendment 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.
NCLB has provided a vehicle for States to raise the achievement of all students and to close the achievement gap. We are seeing the results of our combined endeavor; achievement is rising throughout the nation. I appreciate Pennsylvania's efforts to raise the achievement of all students and hold all schools accountable. I wish you continued success in your school improvement efforts. If you need any additional assistance in your efforts to implement the standards, assessments, and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Catherine Freeman (firstname.lastname@example.org) or David Harmon (email@example.com) of my staff.
Henry L. Johnson
Governor Ed Rendell
Amendment to the Pennsylvania Accountability Plan
The following is a summary of the State's approved amendment. Please refer to the Department's website (refer to: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for the complete Pennsylvania accountability plan.
Including students with disabilities in AYP (Element 5.3)
Revision: For the 2005-06 school year, Pennsylvania requested to continue to utilize the "proxy method" to take advantage of the Secretary's offer of flexibility regarding modified academic achievement standards. Pennsylvania will calculate a proxy to determine the percentage of students with disabilities that is equivalent to 2.0 percent of all students assessed. This proxy (14%) will then be added to the percent of students with disabilities who are proficient. For any school or district that did not make AYP solely due to its students with disabilities subgroup, Pennsylvania will use this adjusted percent proficient to reexamine if the school or district made AYP for the 2005-06 school year.