June 27, 2005
Honorable Lana Seivers
Commissioner of Education
Tennessee Department of Education
Andrew Johnson Tower - 6th Floor
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0375
Dear Commissioner Seivers:
I am writing in response to Tennessee'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). The changes you requested are aligned with NCLB and are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Tennessee submitted to the Department on June 22, 2005. The changes are listed in an attachment to this letter. I am pleased to fully approve Tennessee's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website.
If, over time, Tennessee makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, Tennessee 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 Tennessee's accountability plan is not also an approval of Tennessee's standards and assessment system. As Tennessee makes changes in its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, Tennessee must submit information about those changes to the Department for peer review through the standards and assessment process.
Please also be aware that approval of Tennessee'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 Tennessee 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 Tennessee in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
cc: Governor Phil Bredesen
Amendment to the Tennessee Accountability Plan
This attachment is a summary of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the Tennessee Accountability plan on the Department's website: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html.
Including students with disabilities in adequate yearly progress (Element 5.3).
Revision: Tennessee will use the "proxy method" (Option 1 in our guidance dated May 7, 2005) to take advantage of the Secretary's flexibility regarding modified academic achievement standards. Tennessee will calculate a proxy to determine the percentage of special education students that is equivalent to 2.0 percent of all students assessed. For this year only, this proxy 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, Tennessee will use this adjusted percent proficient to reexamine if the school or district made AYP for the 2004-05 school year.
Lag the high school additional indicator by one year (Elements 7.1).
Revision: Tennessee proposes to lag the high school additional indicator by one year. For example, if AYP determinations are based on the analysis of 2005-06 test data, the state will use 2004-05 graduation rates as the high school additional indicator.
Use a different academic indicator for high school for one year (Elements 7.1 and 7.3).
Revision: For AYP determinations based on analysis of 2004-05 test data only, Tennessee proposes using the event dropout rate. For this transition year, schools and districts must meet the State Board's standard for an event dropout rate or show improvement from the 2003-04 year.
Use a temporary alternative additional indicator safe harbor (Elements 3.1-3.2b, 5.1 and 7.1).
Revision: Until 2009-10, Tennessee proposes to use an alternative additional indicator for high schools-event dropout rate-for purposes of safe harbor as it applies to Students with Disabilities, English Language Learners, and Economically Disadvantaged Students only. For AYP determinations based on analysis of 2004-05 test data only, Tennessee will use the event dropout rate for purposes of safe harbor as it applies to race/ethnicity subgroups.
Delay the implementation of an Alternate Assessment for Limited English Proficient Students (Elements 5.4).
Revision: Tennessee, in partnership with Accountability Works and four other states, received an Enhanced Assessment Grant, which allowed the development of the alternate assessment for LEP students in reading/language arts. This assessment will serve both Title I and Title III accountability purposes starting with school year 2004-2005. However, the State has not been able to develop an alternate assessment for LEP students in math. Although the State proposes to continue the process of development of that alternate assessment, it proposes that LEP students will participate in the State's regular math assessment until that alternate assessment is in place. Tennessee will need to include the alternate assessments in the submission of information for peer review of the State's standards and assessment system.
Use of criterion-referenced tests (Element 1.4)
Revision: Previously Tennessee used an augmented norm-referenced test for grades 3-8 for reading, language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. Starting with Spring 2005 testing, Tennessee will use only criterion-referenced assessments for grades 3-8 in all five content areas. Tennessee will need to include the new criterion-referenced assessments in the submission of information for peer review of the State's standards and assessment system.