July 28, 2008
The Honorable Tim Webb
Acting Commissioner of Education
Tennessee Department of Education
Sixth Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0375
Dear Commissioner Webb:
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 discussions between the Department and your staff, you made certain changes to Tennessee's accountability plan, which are now included in the amended state accountability plan that Tennessee submitted to the Department on July 25, 2008. I am pleased to approve Tennessee's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website. A summary of Tennessee's requested amendments is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend Tennessee'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 Tennessee'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 Tennessee will continue to advance its efforts to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. If you need any additional assistance to implement the standards, assessment, and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Lauren Prehoda (Lauren.Prehoda@ed.gov) or Sharon Hall (Sharon.Hall@ed.gov) of my staff.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Phil Bredesen
Amendments to Tennessee's Accountability Plan
The following is a summary of the state's amendment requests. Please refer to the Department's website (www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for Tennessee's complete accountability plan.
The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations.
Determining adequate yearly progress (AYP) (Element 3.2)
Revision: Tennessee will allow high school students to retest during the same school year and to include the best result on the state assessment in AYP determinations.
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 transition flexibility regarding calculating AYP for the students with disabilities subgroup, as offered by the Department pursuant to its authority under 34 C.F.R. § 200.20(g). See www.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/modachieve-summary.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 score proficient or above. Tennessee will use this adjusted percentage proficient to re-examine if a school or district made AYP for the 2007-08 school year only, and only for a school or district that did not make AYP solely due to its students with disabilities subgroup.
Other academic indicator (Element 7.1)
Revision: Beginning with AYP determinations in 2009-08, based on assessments administered in 2008-09, Tennessee will revise its other academic indicator for high school, graduation rate, such that in order for any district or school to make AYP with respect to graduation rate, or for subgroups of students when calculating Safe Harbor, it must meet one of the following:
- Meet the state graduation rate target (90 percent);
- Meet the prescribed projection/track graduation rate target; or
- Be within two percentage points of the prescribed projection/track target, provided there is overall improvement in the graduation rate from the previous year and overall improvement on the "event dropout rate" from the previous year.
The following amendment is not aligned with the statute and regulations.
Other academic indicator (Element 7.1)The Department cannot approve Tennessee's proposal to apply a confidence interval to its graduation rate when calculating AYP. Graduation rate is the measure of the number of students who graduated in the standard number of years with a regular diploma. It is a count, not based on a proportion or a sample. Thus, there is no inherent variability in this percentage that would require a confidence interval to ensure that the target has not been met, such as is the case with state assessment results.