July 12, 2006
The Honorable Shirley Neeley
Texas Education Agency
1701 North Congress
Austin, Texas 78701
Dear Commissioner Neeley:
I am writing in response to Texas'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 requested changes that are aligned with NCLB are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Texas submitted on July 6th, 2006. The revised and fully approved plan will be posted on the Department's website. A summary of the approved amendment is enclosed with this letter.
As you know, any additional requests to amend the Texas accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I. Please note that approval of Texas's accountability plan does not constitute approval of the State's standards and assessment system. As delineated in the letter to Texas (http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/nclbfinalassess/tx.html), Texas needs to submit evidence that its standards and assessment system meets the requirements of section 1111(b)(1) and (3) of Title I to the Department for peer review through the standards and assessment process. Based on this process, it may be necessary for Texas to make corresponding changes to its accountability plan. At the appropriate time, we will discuss these issues with you and your staff.
Please also be aware that approval of Texas'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 Texas'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 Catherine Freeman (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Valeria Ford (email@example.com) of my staff.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Governor Rick Perry
Amendments to the Texas 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 Texas accountability plan.
Conforming changes to accountability plan (Elements 1.2, 9.3, 10.1):
Revision: Texas has noted several places in its workbook that must be updated to reflect the compliance agreement with the Department. These changes reduce possible confusion by bringing together the most current information about calculation of adequate yearly progress (AYP) for 2006 and 2007 in one document to avoid school districts and policymakers having to apply provisions in the compliance agreement to the workbook.
Achievement Standards (Element 1.3):
Revision: Texas has clarified its system for establishing achievement standards. This is in response to findings from a Title I monitoring visit by the Department.
Subgroup Accountability: Creating a separate subgroup for hurricane evacuees (Element 5.1)
Revision: Texas requested a flexibility agreement to create a new subgroup specifically for students displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita for AYP decisions based on the 2005-2006 school year. Texas may also permit districts and their campuses that were closed for seven or more instructional days and are located in a county designated by FEMA as a disaster area that qualifies for public assistance due to Hurricane Rita to be evaluated separately. Districts or campuses in this group that miss AYP will receive a 2005-06 AYP status of Not Evaluated and would not move forward in the school and district improvement timeline.
The Secretary granted this flexibility agreement. The conditions for approval can be found in the April 19th letter to Commissioner Neeley at http://hurricanehelpforschools.gov/letters/052606-texas.pdf.