Laws & Guidance ELEMENTARY & SECONDARY EDUCATION
Assessment
Guidance on Alternate Assessments

July 25, 2005

Dr. Susan Tave Zelman
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Ohio Department of Education
25 South Front Street, Mail Stop 70
Columbus, OH 43215-4183

Dear Superintendent Zelman:

This is in response to your February 3, 2005 request for a one-year exception to the 1.0 percent statewide cap on the number of proficient and advanced scores from alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards that can be included in adequate yearly progress (AYP) decisions. We appreciate your staff's willingness to provide additional information to us and to speak with us about this request. Based on all the information provided by Ohio, we cannot approve your request to use proficient and advanced scores from alternate assessments in AYP decisions subject to a cap of 1.4 percent for the 2004-05 school year. You may, however, continue to use the 1.3 percent cap approved last year.

This decision is intended to support Ohio's commitment to ensure that as many students with disabilities as possible are held to grade-level academic achievement standards, and that the use of alternate achievement standards is limited to students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Raising the cap from 1.3 percent to 1.4 percent does not appear to be warranted based on the number of students scoring proficient or advanced on the alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards in previous years. Nor is there a sufficient justification for an increase in the number of students being assessed based on alternate achievement standards. If, after you calculate your student achievement data, you find that more than 1.3 percent of students actually achieve proficiency on the alternate assessment, you may resubmit your request.

As you know, we have begun the process of peer reviewing State standards and assessment systems to ensure that they meet the NCLB requirements by the end of the 2005-06 school year. We understand that you will submit information about your system in time for the Department to review it next spring. This review will include alternate assessments and alternate achievement standards, among other issues, and will determine the extent to which State assessment systems as a whole (including alternate assessments) fulfill the NCLB requirements. The Department's peer review guidance provides more detail about these issues and includes examples of evidence to demonstrate the alignment and technical quality of such assessments. This guidance is available on our website at www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/saaprguidance.doc.

The Department's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Office of Special Education Programs will continue working with you to ensure the successful implementation of the Title I assessment requirements, including the requirements for assessment of children with disabilities. In addition, the Office of Special Education Programs is available to provide technical assistance to your State on the related requirements of IDEA, including those related to assessments; placement in the least restrictive environment; the provision of supplementary aids and services; and access to and progress in the general curriculum.

We encourage States to work with us throughout their assessment development process so that the peer reviews are successful and are a capstone in State efforts to develop assessments that will measure academic achievement for all students in valid and reliable ways. Ohio has shown a commitment to raising standards for students with disabilities and to improving its assessment system. We wish you success in your efforts to ensure that all your students are held to high standards of academic achievement.

Sincerely,

Raymond Simon
Assistant Secretary for
Elementary and Secondary Education
Troy R. Justesen, Ed.D.
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary
for Special Education and
Rehabilitative Services

cc: Governor Bob Taft


 
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Last Modified: 10/21/2005