June 11, 2008
The Honorable Peter McWalters
Commissioner of Education
Rhode Island Department of Education
255 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02903
Dear Commissioner McWalters:
I am writing in response to Rhode Island'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 discussions between the Department and your staff, you made certain changes to your state accountability plan, which are now included in the amended state accountability plan that Rhode Island submitted to the Department on June 10, 2008. I am pleased to fully approve Rhode Island's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website. A summary of the amendments submitted for the 2007-08 school year is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend Rhode Island'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 Rhode Island's accountability plan for Title I, including the amendments 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 Rhode Island will continue 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 implementing the standards, assessment and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Abigail Potts (Abigail.Potts@ed.gov) or Sue Rigney (Sue.Rigney@ed.gov) of my staff.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Donald L. Carcieri
Mary Ann Snider
Amendments to Rhode Island's Accountability Plan
The following is a summary of Rhode Island's amendment requests. Please refer to the Department's website (www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for Rhode Island's complete accountability plan.
The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations.
Annual Measurable Objectives (Element 3.2)
Revision: Rhode Island will maintain its high school annual measurable objectives (AMOs) with the implementation of its new high school assessment.
Determining adequate yearly progress (AYP) for local educational agencies (LEAs) (Element 3.2)
Revision: Rhode Island will identify districts for improvement after missing any target for two consecutive years in the same subject area.
Inclusion of students with disabilities in AYP determinations (Element 5.3)
Revision: Rhode Island will include students who were formerly classified as students with disabilities in that subgroup for two additional years for purposes of calculating AYP.
Assessments used in AYP (Element 3.2)
Revision: Rhode Island updated its accountability workbook to reflect the implementation of the new NECAP high school assessments in reading, writing, and mathematics for the 2007-08 school year.
Revision: Rhode Island will continue weighting the new high school reading and writing assessments in the same manner as the previous testing system. Reading will be weighted as 80 percent of the English/language arts score and writing will be weighted as 20 percent of the English/language arts score.
Graduation rate (Element 7.1)
Revision: With the transition to high school assessments in the fall, Rhode Island will use the graduation rate that corresponds to the instructional year measured by the high school assessments. For example, high school AYP determinations will be based on the reading, writing, and mathematics assessments administered in fall 2007, which measured academic achievement during 2006-07, and the graduation rate from the 2006-07 school year.
The following amendment does not comply with the statute or regulations. Therefore, it may not be included in Rhode Island's accountability plan.
Appeals process (Element 3.1)
Rhode Island requested to consider supplemental data for schools missing a single target by a small margin. Section 1116(b)(2)(B) allows local educational agencies (LEAs) to consider appeals of school level AYP determinations if the principal of a school, or a majority of the parents enrolled in the school, believe that the determination is in error for statistical or other substantive reasons. If a school appeals a designation on the basis of a statistical error, the LEA may consider supporting evidence. However, missing AYP by a small margin or missing AYP in only one subgroup is not a statistical error. Therefore, the LEA does not have the authority to consider additional evidence to re-evaluate the school's AYP determination.