July 21, 2006
The Honorable Lana C. Seivers
Commissioner of Education
Tennessee Department of Education
Sixth Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower
710 James Robertson Parkway
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 of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Following our discussions with your staff, the changes that are aligned with NCLB are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Tennessee submitted to the Department on July 20, 2006. I am pleased to fully approve Tennessee's plan, which 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 Tennessee accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I. Once again, I would like to congratulate you on meeting all of the requirements for the Tennessee standards and assessment system.
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.
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 Tennessee'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 Zollie Stevenson, Jr. (Zollie.Stevenson@ed.gov) of my staff.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Governor Phil Bredesen
Amendments to the Tennessee accountability plan
The following is a summary of the State's approved amendments. Please refer to the Department's website (www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for the complete Tennessee accountability plan.
District identification of adequate yearly progress (AYP) (Element 3.1)
Revision: Tennessee clarifies that a district will be identified for improvement only when it misses AYP in the same subject in all grade spans for two consecutive years, or the other academic indicator in all grade spans for two consecutive years. Tennessee also clarifies that districts must use all applicable additional academic indicators when determining AYP.
Growth model to determine AYP (Element 3.2)
Revision: As approved by the Department through a flexibility agreement, Tennessee will implement a growth model as a means of determining AYP for schools and districts. For details regarding the proposal, including the approval letter, refer to: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/growthmodel/tn/index.html.
Safe harbor calculation (Element 3.2)
Revision: Tennessee will apply 2- and 3-year averages when determining subgroup-level decreases in the percentage of students below proficient for safe harbor purposes. Subgroups must meet a 10-percent decrease in the percentage of students below proficient from the previous year, a 19-percent decrease over two years, or a 27-percent decrease over three years.
Creation of a Katrina subgroup (Element 5.1)
Revision: As approved by the Department through a flexibility agreement, Tennessee will create a separate subgroup for students displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita for reporting and accountability purposes. These students will not be included in any other group and their performance will not be included in AYP determinations. For additional details, refer to: http://hurricanehelpforschools.gov/letters/5-states.html.
Including students with disabilities in AYP determinations (Element 5.3)
Revision: Tennessee will use the "proxy method" (option 1 in our guidance dated December 2005) to take advantage of the Secretary's flexibility regarding modified academic achievement standards (refer to: www.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/secletter/051214a.html). Tennessee will calculate a proxy to determine the percentage of students with disabilities that is equivalent to 2.0 percent of all students assessed. For this year only, this proxy will then be added to the percentage 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 percentage proficient to re-examine if the school or district made AYP for the 2005–06 school year.
Suspension of alternate assessment for AYP determinations of limited English proficient (LEP) students (Element 5.4)
Revision: Tennessee clarifies that it will postpone the use of an alternate assessment for AYP determinations of LEP students in reading/language arts. This assessment will continue to serve for Title III accountability purposes but not for AYP determinations.
Calculation of participation rates (Element 10.1)
Revision: Tennessee clarifies that students with invalid assessment scores are included as non-participants when calculating the participation rate.