Date: August 29, 2011
The Honorable Cindy Hill
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Wyoming Department of Education
2300 Capitol Avenue
Hathaway Building, 2nd Floor
Cheyenne, WY 82002-0050
Dear Superintendent Hill:
I am writing in response to Wyoming’s request to amend its state accountability plan under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended. Following discussions between the U.S. Department of Education (Department) and your staff, Wyoming requested six changes to its accountability plan, which are now included in the amended plan that Wyoming submitted to the Department on February 15, 2011, with additional amendment requests and revisions submitted on May 26, 2011. Please note that the Department cannot approve one of the amendments as indicated in the enclosed summary of Wyoming’s requested amendments. However, I am pleased to approve the remainder of Wyoming’s amended plan, which we will post on the Department’s website. As you know, any further requests to amend Wyoming’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 Wyoming’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 Wyoming 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 (Valeria.Ford@ed.gov) of my staff.
Acting Assistant Secretary
cc: Governor Matthew Mead
Amendments to Wyoming’s Accountability Plan
The following is a summary of Wyoming’s amendment requests. Please refer to the Department’s website (www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for Wyoming’s complete accountability plan.
The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations.
Including each student subgroup, public school and LEA in AYP determinations (3.2))
Revision: Wyoming has updated the major racial and ethnic groups for which it disaggregates student achievement data when making AYP determinations to correspond with the racial and ethnic categories that states must use for reporting purposes pursuant to the guidelines in Final Guidance on Maintaining, Collecting, and Reporting Racial and Ethnic Data to the U.S. Department of Education, 72 Fed. Reg. 59266 (Dec. 3, 2007) (“Final Guidance”).
Making annual adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations (4.1)
Revision: Wyoming has updated its workbook to indicate that (1) all 11th grade students be required to take all content areas of its statewide assessment, the Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students (PAWS), in 2011 in order for them to be considered as participating in the PAWS assessments, and (2) scores for students taking the reading, writing, or mathematics assessment in the 10th grade be “banked” for each content area separately.
Uniform Averaging (6.1)
Revision: As a result of the systemic malfunction of its online assessment system, Wyoming does not have valid data from its 2009-10 assessments and, therefore, has no data from that year for use in making AYP determinations. As a result, for the 2010-2011 school year only, if a school or district does not meet the AYP requirement using the 2010-2011 PAWS data, then Wyoming will use uniform averaging based on the 2010-2011 and 2008-2009 PAWS data.
Defining the public high school graduation rate (7.1)
Revision: Beginning in 2010-11, Wyoming will move from the “exiter” graduation rate to the regulatory four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate.
Calculating participation rates in the State assessments for use in AYP determinations (10.1)
Revision: As a result of the systemic malfunction of its online assessment system, Wyoming does not have valid data from its 2009-10 assessments and, therefore, has no data from that year for use in making AYP determinations. As a result, for the 2010-2011 school year only, if a school or district does not meet the participation rate requirement using the 2010-2011 PAWS data, then Wyoming will use uniform averaging based on 2010-2011 and 2008-2009 PAWS data.
The following amendment is not aligned with the statute and regulations and is, therefore, not approved.
Safe Harbor (6.1)
Revision: The Department cannot approve Wyoming’s request to calculate safe harbor for the 2010-2011 school year based on the 2010-2011 and 2008-2009 PAWS data. In order to use safe harbor, under section 1111(b)(2)(I)(i) of the ESEA, states must compare data from the current school year with data from the preceding school year. The statute does not permit states to calculate safe harbor based on data from earlier years.