June 18, 2004
Honorable Terry Bergeson
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Washington Department of Public Instruction
PO Box 47200
Olympia, WA 98504-7200
Dear Superintendent Bergeson:
I am writing in response to Washington'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). Following our discussions with your staff, those changes that are aligned with NCLB are now included in an amended state accountability plan that Washington submitted to the Department on June 16, 2004. A list of the changes is enclosed with this letter. I am pleased to fully approve Washington's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website.
If, over time, Washington makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, Washington 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 Washington's accountability plan is not also an approval of Washington’s standards and assessment system. As Washington makes changes in its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, Washington 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 Washington'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 hope that you have found the accountability plan amendment process effective for implementing a state accountability system that best serves the needs of Washington's students and schools and that will lead to improving the academic achievement of all students. As evidenced by the diversity among state accountability plans and state consolidated applications, States have great flexibility in the design of their systems and implementation of particular NCLB provisions. If, as you implement your accountability plan, you find additional elements of your plan that you believe should be refined or amended for next school year to best serve the needs of your students and schools, I encourage you to explore all the areas of flexibility available to your State.
In addition to the flexibility available to States in the design and implementation of their accountability plans, I also encourage you and your districts to utilize the additional flexibility available for the administration and operation of NCLB programs. NCLB continued the flexibility available to States and districts under the 1994 reauthorization of the ESEA, including the ability to consolidate state and local administrative funds (sections 9201 and 9203), to operate schoolwide programs (section 1114), and to participate in the Education Flexibility Partnership Program ("Ed-Flex"). Additionally, NCLB created several new flexibility options for States and districts for the operation of federal programs. These new flexibility provisions include the State Flexibility Authority (sections 6141 through 6144), the Local Flexibility Demonstration program (sections 6151 through 6156), Transferability (sections 6121 through 6123), and the Rural Education Achievement program (sections 6201 through 6234). These flexibilities truly offer States and districts the ability to target federal resources to their unique and individual needs.
I am confident that Washington 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 Washington in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
cc: Governor Gary Locke
Amendments to the Washington Accountability Plan
These statements are summaries of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the Washington Accountability plan on the Department's website: http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html
Small school AYP (Element 1.2)
Revision: Washington indicates they will make regular AYP determinations for small schools when there are between 10 to 29 students, with the application of a confidence interval. A review of each school's plan will be conducted for schools smaller than 10.
Participation Rate (Element 2.1 and 10.1)
Request: Washington will adopt the new flexibility regarding students who have medical emergencies during the testing window and its affect on a school's participation rate.
Averaging data for AYP determinations (Element 3.2)
Revision: Washington will move towards averaging data across grade levels, and will average data over the past two years for AYP determinations.
Annual Measurable Objectives/Intermediate Goals (Element 3.2)
Revision: Washington will increase its annual measurable objectives in equal increments every three years with the first increase occurring 2004-05 school year.
Use of alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards (Element 5.3)
Request: Washington will be using the final regulation in the Federal Register issued December 9, 2003, concerning the 1.0% cap. Specifically, Washington will ensure that the number of proficient and advanced scores based on the alternate achievement standards does not exceed 1.0% of all students in the grades assessed at the State and LEA levels.
Assessing LEP students (Element 5.4)
Revision: Washington will include the flexibility that the Secretary's letter of February 20, 2004 provides relative to limited English proficient students for assessment and accountability purposes.
Minimum group size (Element5.5)
Revision: Washington's group size will be as follows: 30 students until school or district enrollment exceeds 3000 and then the group size is at least 1%, except for students with disabilities and the LEP subgroup. The group size approach for these two subgroups is 40 until the school or district enrollments exceed 4000 and then the group size is at least 1%.
Other indicators (Element 7.1 and 7.2)
Revision: Washington's goal for graduation rate is 66%. They will increase this goal over the years until it reaches 85% in 2013-14. Washington has provided additional information about how the unexcused absence data (other indicator for element/middle schools) are used in safe harbor calculations.
Graduation rate (Element 7.1)
Revision: Washington will allow students with disabilities additional time to receive a standard high school diploma when that length of time is indicated as appropriate in a student's individualized education plans.
Confidence Interval (Element 9.1)
Revision: Washington will use a confidence interval of 99%.