June 23, 2005
The Honorable Joseph B. Morton
Interim State Superintendent of Education
Gordon Persons Building
P. O. Box 302101
Montgomery, AL 36130-2101
Dear Superintendent Morton:
I am writing in response to Alabama'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 Alabama submitted to the Department on April 13, 2005. A list of the changes is attached to this letter.
I would also like to inform you that I have determined that Alabama has met all of its conditions for approval of its accountability plan that were detailed in Eugene Hickok's letter of July 1, 2003. The determination is based on the clarifications you provided in your correspondence of April 6, 2005, and in the final amended Alabama Accountability Workbook, which deletes references to a state accountability system. I am pleased to fully approve Alabama’s amended plan, which we will post on the Department’s website.
If, over time, Alabama makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved (including adding a new state accountability system), Alabama 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 Alabama's accountability plan is not also an approval of Alabama's standards and assessment system. As Alabama makes changes in its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, Alabama 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 Alabama'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 am confident that Alabama 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 Alabama in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
cc: Governor Bob Riley
Amendments to the Alabama Accountability Plan
This statement is a summary of the amendment. For complete details, please refer to the Alabama Accountability plan on the Department's website: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html
Providing information in a timely manner (Element 1.4): Report cards will be produced in the five most prevalent languages in the state through a contract with Transact. The SDE will inform the LEAs of the five languages in which the report cards are available. The LEAs will inform parents of the availability through websites, parent meetings, and school bulletins.
Rewards and Sanctions (Element 1.6): Alabama added the State Board of Education resolution pertaining to rewards and sanctions.
New data management system (Element 2.2, 2.3, 5.1, 10.1): Alabama has added a new data management system.
Full academic year definition (Element 2.2): The new definition of full academic year is enrollment from October 1 of any school year to the first day of the testing window.
Method of AYP determinations (Element 3.1, 3.2c): The timeline for intermediate goals has been updated to include new assessments that will be added in spring 2005 and grade spans for determining AYP for local educational agencies have been revised.
Use of proficiency index (Element 3.1, 3.2a): Grades 3-8 and 11 within a school will be combined for adequate yearly progress determinations using a proficiency index. For an LEA, a proficiency index will be determined separately for elementary (Grades 3-5), middle (Grades 6-8), and high school (Grade 11).
Administration of mathematics assessment (Element 1.3, 3.1, 3.2a, 3.2c, 9.3): The date for administration of the Grade 8 mathematics assessment has been changed from spring 2004 to spring 2005.
District identification for improvement (Element 3.2): Districts will be identified for improvement only when they do not make AYP in the same subject or the additional indicator in all three grade spans (i.e., elementary, middle, and high schools) for two consecutive years. In implementing this provision, States should 1) monitor districts that have not made AYP in one grade span but have not been identified for improvement to ensure they are making the necessary curricular and instructional changes to improve achievement, and 2) take steps to ensure supplemental services are available to eligible students from a variety of providers throughout the state (including in districts that have not been identified for improvement but that have schools that have been in improvement for more than one year).
English language proficiency assessment (Element 5.4): Alabama will revise the test that is identified for measuring students' attainment of English language proficiency. Beginning in 2004-05, LEAs will use the English language proficiency test ACESS for ELLs, which is currently under development by the Wisconsin, Illinois, Delaware, Arkansas Consortium project of which Alabama is a participant.
Participation rate (Element 10.1): Add uniform averaging over a three-year period for participation rates.
State accountability system (Elements 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 6.1, and 8.1): This plan no longer has references to a State accountability system that is not yet in place.