August 27, 2004
Honorable Rick Melmer
Secretary of Education
South Dakota Department of Education
700 Governors Drive
Pierre, South Dakota 57501-2291
Dear Secretary Melmer:
I am writing in response to South Dakota'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 South Dakota submitted to the Department on August 3, 2004. A list of the changes is enclosed with this letter. I am pleased to fully approve South Dakota's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website.
Additionally, based on information you have provided us regarding uniform averaging and the actions taken by the South Dakota State Board of Education to finalize certain elements in the accountability plan required under NCLB, South Dakota has met the conditions of approval that were detailed in the July 1, 2003, letter from Eugene Hickok.
If, over time, South Dakota makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, South Dakota 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 South Dakota's accountability plan is not also an approval of South Dakota's standards and assessment system. As South Dakota makes changes in its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, South Dakota 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 South Dakota'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 South Dakota's students and schools and that will lead to improving the academic achievement of all students. 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.
I wish you well in your school improvement efforts. If I can be of any additional assistance to South Dakota in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
cc: Governor M. Michael Rounds
Amendment to the South Dakota Accountability Plan
This statement is a summary of the amendment. For complete details, please refer to the South Dakota Accountability plan on the Department's website: http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html
Identification of districts for improvement (Elements 1.4, 3.1, 3.2, 3.2a, 3.2b, 4.1, 5.4, 6.1, and 8.1 )
Revision: South Dakota will identify districts for improvement only when they do not make AYP in the same subject and all 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 LEAs that have not been identified for improvement but that have schools that have been in improvement for more than one year).
District Rewards (Element 1.6)
Revision: South Dakota will reward districts that make AYP in both reading and math for two consecutive years in all grade spans.