August 5, 2005
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). The changes you requested are aligned with NCLB and are now included in an amended State accountability plan that South Dakota submitted to the Department on August 2, 2005. The changes are listed in an attachment to this letter. I am pleased to fully approve South Dakota's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website.
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. South Dakota has submitted changes in its standards and assessment system to the Department for peer review and we will communicate the results of that review separately.
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 am confident that South Dakota 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 South Dakota in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Governor M. Michael Rounds
Amendments to the South Dakota Accountability Plan
This attachment is a summary of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the South Dakota Accountability plan on the Department's website: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html
Accountability system holds all schools to the same criteria (Elements 1.2 and 2.1)
Revision: The language clarifies that students in institutions for the blind and deaf will be counted for accountability purposes in the resident school. Students placed in South Dakota private/non-profit facilities will be included for accountability purposes in the resident district (rather than tracked back to the resident school as was the case in the previous plan). New language was inserted stating that students placed by other State agencies will be included for accountability purposes at the district level.
Rewards and Sanctions for public schools and LEAs (Element 1.6)
Revision: The language clarifies that at least 10 students in the grades tested in schools are needed in order for a school to be eligible for the Distinguished Schools award. At least 10 students per grade span in the district are needed for a district to be eligible.
Definition of Adequate Yearly Progress (Element 3.2)
Revision: A 75% confidence interval will be applied to the calculations for 'safe harbor.'
Starting points and Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) for Adequate Yearly Progress (Elements 3.2a, b, c and 9.3)
Revision: Due to a change in the academic content and achievement standards, as well as the assessment for reading, the starting point and AMOs for reading were revised during the summer of 2005. South Dakota used the same methodology as they did in 2003, with 100% of the students reaching proficiency by 2013-14 in equal intervals, with each increase occurring no more than three years apart. Content standards and achievement descriptors for mathematics have been revised and will be implemented during the 2005-06 school year. Cut scores for the revised math assessment will be set in May 2006. The same procedure for setting the starting point and AMOs for math will be used in June 2006.
Including students with disabilities in adequate yearly progress (Element 5.3)
Revision: A standards setting process was conducted in May 2005 based upon results of the alternate assessment for students with severe cognitive disabilities administered during the 2004-05 school year. The narrative for this element has been revised to reflect the establishment of alternate academic achievement standards and the intended use of the alternate assessment scores in determining adequate yearly progress for the 2004-05 school year.
Revision: South Dakota will use the "proxy method" (Option 1 in our guidance dated May 7, 2005) to take advantage of the Secretary’s flexibility regarding calculating AYP for students with disabilities. South Dakota will calculate a proxy to determine the percentage of students with disabilities that is equivalent to 2.0 percent of all students assessed. For this year only, this proxy will then be added to the percent of students with disabilities who are proficient. For any school or district that did not make AYP solely due to its students with disabilities subgroup, South Dakota will use this adjusted percent proficient to reexamine if the school or district made AYP for the 2004-05 school year.
Inclusion of limited English proficient (LEP) students in AYP determinations (Element 5.4)
Revision: South Dakota has clarified language pertaining to the English Language Proficiency Test and participation of LEP students in assessments consistent with the Secretary's flexibility offered in February 2004.
Revision: LEP students who attain a proficient achievement level for two consecutive years on the overall composite score of the English language proficiency assessment will no longer be considered an active LEP student.
High school graduation rate (Element 7.1)
Revision: The graduation rate target has been changed from 90% to 80%. The new target is based on four years of data for the "all student" group and is set one standard deviation below the State average.
Appeals of adequate yearly progress status (Element 9.2)
Revision: The new language clarifies that districts must submit a letter regarding appeals no later than 10 working days after notification of AYP determination (as opposed to 10 calendar days).
Application of 95% participation requirement (Element 10.2)
Revision: South Dakota modified language regarding the 95% participation requirement in order to provide greater clarity to the field. If a school, district grade span, or student group has 40 or fewer students enrolled in the tested grades, then it shall have no more than two students not participate in the State assessment.