August 8, 2005
Honorable Inez M. Tenenbaum
State Superintendent of Education
South Carolina Department of Education
1006 Rutledge Building
1429 Senate Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Dear Superintendent Tenenbaum:
I am writing in response to South Carolina'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, those changes that are aligned with NCLB are now included in an amended state accountability plan that South Carolina submitted to the Department on July 12, 2005. A list of the changes is enclosed with this letter. I am pleased to fully approve South Carolina's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website.
If, over time, South Carolina makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, South Carolina 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 South Carolina’s accountability plan is not also an approval of South Carolina's standards and assessment system. On June 15, 2005, Raymond Simon sent South Carolina a letter offering Deferred Approval for its standards and assessments system to meet the requirements under NCLB. As per that letter, South Carolina must submit additional information to complete the peer review process.
Please also be aware that approval of South Carolina'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 South Carolina 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 South Carolina in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Governor Mark Sanford
Amendments to the South Carolina Accountability Plan
This statement is a summary of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the South Carolina accountability plan on the Department's website: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html.
- Academic achievement levels (Element 1.3): South Carolina adjusted the wording to reflect that its high school assessment was peer reviewed and approved in accordance with the timeline waiver.
- Providing information in a timely manner (Element 1.4): South Carolina releases preliminary identification of schools/districts on August 15th and begins notifying parents about options for choice and supplemental services on August 20th. South Carolina has requested that the final deadline for identifying schools and districts and confirming the choice and supplemental services options be moved from September 15th to September 30th. If a school is no longer identified as in need of improvement once the decisions are final, any choice and supplemental education services commitments will be honored for that school year.
- Method of AYP determination (Elements 3.2; 5.2): South Carolina will use a statewide proficiency index to calculate AYP (both status and "safe harbor") along with the statutory calculations for AYP and "safe harbor."
- Identifying districts for improvement (Element 4.1): South Carolina will identify districts for improvement only when they do not make AYP in the same subject and two grade spans (i.e., elementary/middle, and high school) for two consecutive years. In implementing this provision, South Carolina 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).
- Students with disabilities included in AYP (Element 5.3): South Carolina will select at random which scores to consider as non-proficient when the number of proficient scores based on alternate achievement standards exceeds 1.0% at the district level.
- Limited English proficient students included in AYP (5.4): South Carolina has updated its list of assessments used to measure the English language proficiency of limited English proficient students. New to the list is the English Language Development Assessment for grades 3-12; for grades K-2, districts will continue using the Woodcock-Munoz, the Idea Proficiency Test, or the Language Assessment Battery. Results on these assessments are used only to determine the English language proficiency status of students.
- Graduation definition for students with disabilities (Element 7.1): A student with a disability who receives a regular diploma in the number of years specified in the student’s IEP will be considered as a student graduating with a regular diploma in the standard number of years. The statewide target for graduation rate for all subgroups is now 88.3%.