Administrators LEAD & MANAGE MY SCHOOL
Decision Letter on Request to Amend South Carolina Accountability Plan

July 10, 2006

The Honorable Inez M. Tenenbaum
State Superintendent of Education
South Carolina Department of Education
1006 Rutledge Building
1429 Senate Street
Columbia, South Carolina 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 of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Following our discussions with your staff, I am pleased to approve those amendments that are aligned with NCLB and included in an amended State accountability plan that South Carolina submitted to the Department on July 7, 2006. The revised and fully approved plan will be posted on the Department's website. A summary of the approved amendments is enclosed with this letter.

As you know, any further requests to amend the South Carolina accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I. I would also like to commend you again for meeting the requirements of NCLB and having a fully approved standards and assessment system. South Carolina must continue to provide information to the Department for peer review as it continues to develop its standards and assessments.

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.

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 South Carolina's efforts to raise the achievement of all students and hold all schools accountable. If you need any additional assistance to implement the standards, assessments, and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Patrick Rooney (Patrick.Rooney@ed.gov) or Grace Ross (Grace.Ross@ed.gov) of my staff.

Sincerely,

Henry L. Johnson

Enclosure

cc: Governor Mark Sanford
Nancy Busbee


Amendments to the South Carolina Accountability Plan

The following is a summary of the State's approved amendments. Please refer to the Department's website (refer to: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for the complete South Carolina accountability plan.

Definition of a reconstituted school (Element 1.2)

Revision: South Carolina clarifies the definition of reconstituted schools to include "two or more existing schools combining to form a new school." In addition, South Carolina clarifies that reconstitution that results in a new student body of 50 percent or more will start over in the adequate yearly progress (AYP) status timeline; reconstitution that does not result in a new student body of 50 percent or more takes on the status of the school where the highest percentage of students was enrolled.

Timely AYP determinations (Element 1.4)

Revision: Due to the fact that the testing contractor does not deliver data to the State until July, South Carolina will, for the determinations of adequate yearly progress made following the 2005-06 school year, base preliminary AYP determinations upon a historical review of data. Pre-identification and release of AYP determinations will occur by June 15 and parental notification of the availability of public school choice and supplemental educational services will occur by August 1. The final AYP determinations based upon data from assessments administered in the previous school year will be made by September 30. The State clarifies that all schools and districts identified as in need of improvement by the preliminary AYP determinations based upon historical data will begin offering the appropriate level of interventions prior to the start of the school year. In addition, schools and districts newly identified as in need of improvement on September 30 based on final AYP data will begin offering public school choice immediately. Schools and districts that are no longer identified as in need of improvement on September 30 based on final data will continue to honor commitments to public school choice and supplemental educational services for the remainder of the school year. Please note that the Department has approved this request for the 2005-06 school year only and we urge South Carolina to request from its testing contractor that it receive data as soon as possible. In addition, we request that South Carolina submit data to the Department for review, following final AYP determinations, to examine the impact of using a historical data for preliminary AYP determinations.

Timely AYP decisions (Element 1.4)

Revision: South Carolina clarifies that both the Palmetto Achievement Challenge Tests and the High School Assessment Program will be administered each spring.

Annual report card timeline (Element 1.5)

Revision: South Carolina will release data and report cards along the following timeline:

  1. June 15: preliminary school improvement and AYP list based on historical assessment data.
  2. August 1: notification of parents by local educational agencies (LEAs) regarding the availability of public school choice and supplemental educational services.
  3. August 15: dissemination of preliminary data to parents.
  4. September 30: confirmation of final AYP determinations and the availability of public school choice and supplemental educational services options to parents by LEAs.
  5. November 15: dissemination of final report cards.

Inclusion of students with disabilities in AYP determinations (Element 5.3)

Revision: South Carolina clarifies that students are no longer allowed to take an out-of-level assessments beginning in spring 2007. Any student taking an out-of-level assessment shall be counted as a non-participant. In addition, South Carolina will base the calculation of 1.0 percent of population on the number of students enrolled in an LEA on the first day of testing.

Inclusion of limited English proficient students in AYP determinations (Element 5.4)

Revision: South Carolina will use the English Language Development Assessment (ELDA) to assess all limited English proficient (LEP) students in their first year in a school in the United States to determine whether they should be waived from participation in the English/language arts portions of the State assessments. For LEP students in their first year in a school in the United States who enroll after the administration of the ELDA, the State will use the Woodcock-Muñoz, Idea Proficiency Test or the Language Assessment Scale to determine whether they should be waived from participation in the English/language arts portions of the State assessments.

Including LEP students included in AYP determinations (Element 5.4)

Revision: South Carolina clarifies that 3 percent (rather than 1 percent) of the student population is limited English proficient.

Graduation rate (Element 7.1)

Revision: South Carolina clarifies the process for determining the 9th grade count when determining the graduation rate and also clarifies that the graduation rate includes students receiving diplomas in four years or less.

Additional academic indicator (Element 7.2)

Revision: South Carolina revised its attendance rate target to 94 percent for elementary and middle schools. Schools and LEAs must meet this target or show progress toward the target to make AYP.

Calculation of additional academic indicator (Element 7.3)

Revision: South Carolina will determine the average daily attendance by totaling the number of days present for students (beginning with children ages 5 and above) in a particular school divided by the number of days students were enrolled at that school. All schools will perform this calculation on the 180th school day.

Participation rate (Element 10.1)

Revision: South Carolina clarifies the formula for calculating the participation rate. When data are averaged across years, a weighed average is used and students with invalid assessment scores are included as non-participants.

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Last Modified: 07/18/2006