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

October 6, 2005

Honorable Thomas M. Jackson, Jr.
President
Virginia Board of Education
227 North Main Street
P. O. Box 130
Hillsville, VA 24343

Dear Mr. Jackson:

We are writing in response to your June 1 request for an extension of the one-year exception to the 1.0 percent 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 at the State and district levels. We apologize for the delay in responding.

For the 2003-04 school year, we approved your request to use proficient and advanced scores from alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards in AYP decisions subject to a cap of 1.13 percent. We approve your continued use of a cap of 1.13 percent for the 2004-05 school year.

We have begun the process of peer reviewing State standards and assessment systems to ensure that they meet the NCLB requirements that take effect by the end of the 2005-06 school year. This review covers, among other issues, alternate assessments and alternate achievement standards. The peer review process will determine the extent to which State assessment systems (including alternate assessments) fulfill the NCLB requirements. In general, alternate assessments will be reviewed as part of the entire State assessment system and not separate from the regular assessments. The Department's peer review guidance provides more detail about these issues and examples of evidence that would demonstrate the alignment and quality of such assessments. This guidance is available on our website at http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/saaprguidance.doc.

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 student achievement for all students in valid and reliable ways. Virginia 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 student achievement.

Sincerely,

Henry L. Johnson
Assistant Secretary
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
John H. Hager
Assistant Secretary
Office of Special Education and
Rehabilitative Services

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Last Modified: 10/14/2005