June 9, 2009
The Honorable Randy Dorn
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Washington Department of Public Instruction
Old Capitol Building
PO Box 47200
Olympia, Washington 98504
Dear Superintendent Dorn:
On behalf of Secretary Duncan, I want to thank you for your hard work in implementing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). As you may know, the Secretary is traveling the country and listening to representatives of states and school districts, as well as other stakeholders, to talk about the ways in which the ESEA can be improved. These conversations will inform the next reauthorization of the statute. In the meantime, we will push towards our reform goals under the authority of, and in accordance with, the existing statute and regulations.
I am writing in response to Washington’s request to amend its state accountability plan under Title I of the ESEA. As you are aware from discussions between the Department and your staff, the change you requested on February 5, 2009, cannot be approved. Washington’s amended accountability plan that we received May 11, 2009, will be posted on the Department's website. A summary of Washington's requested amendment is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend Washington’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.
I am confident that Washington 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 the ESEA, please do not hesitate to contact Clayton.Hollingshead@ed.gov of my staff.
Joseph C. Conaty
cc: Governor Chris Gregoire
Proposed Amendments to Washington's Accountability Plan
The following is a summary of Washington's amendment request. Please refer to the Department's website www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html for Washington's complete accountability plan.
The following amendment does not comply with 34 C.F.R. § 200.20(g) and the criteria established by the Department pursuant to its authority under that provision. Therefore, it may not be included in Washington's accountability plan.
Including students with disabilities in adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations (Element 5.3)
Washington's proposal to use the "proxy method" (option 1 in the Department's guidance dated December 2005) to take advantage of the transition flexibility regarding calculating AYP for the students with disabilities subgroup cannot be approved by the Department. Consistent with 34 C.F.R.§ 200.20(g) and the letter from Zollie Stevenson to Chief State School Officers on December 5, 2008 (available at www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/stateletters/amreqfor0809ltr7.doc), to be eligible for transition flexibility, a state must show that it is making substantial progress in developing an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards (AA-MAAS). Although Washington has expressed interest in developing an AA-MAAS, at this point it has not conducted any research, such as identifying the population for whom an AA-MAAS is appropriate, revised standards-based Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), or worked toward developing an AA-MAAS. Without any concrete evidence of the work being undertaken to develop an AA-MAAS, the Department cannot approve the state's request.