September 6, 2001
Honorable Shirley J. Holloway
Commissioner of Education
Alaska Department of Education
801 West 10th Street, Suite 200
Juneau, Alaska 99801-1894
Dear Commissioner Holloway:
I am writing in regard to Alaska's plan and timeline for meeting the final assessment requirements of Title I as described in the July 2, 2001 letter to the Department from your Deputy Commissioner Dr. Ed McLain. He requested Alaska receive a two-year timeline waiver to enable your State to complete its final assessment system.
Accompanying Dr. McLain's letter were copies of reports and guidelines that were not available when Alaska initially submitted final assessment system evidence. We will include the additional evidence in upcoming peer review activities and will provide you with a response and comment regarding the additional information.
We understand that it will take about two years for Alaska to study and implement either a Native Language assessment or linguistically appropriate accommodations for limited English proficient students (LEP), and that it will take about a year to change and implement the policy to include LEP students in Alaska's standards based assessments after one year of enrollment in Alaskan schools. Collection of accurate participation rate information for Alaska students taking your standards based assessments, and compilation of evidence that all high school students are being included in administrations of Alaska's high school graduation assessments, will take approximately one year. Disaggregation and reporting of student performance at the local, district and State levels will take about one year, as will the preparation of information on the alignment and technical quality of Alaska's benchmark, alternate and accommodated assessment instruments. Other issues such as evidence that performance standards are aligned with content standards, the determination of performance cut scores, and decisions regarding the weight and definition of adequate yearly progress, will take less than a year to complete.
In light of the information you have provided on how Alaska intends to meet the above requirements, I agree to grant a two-year waiver of the timeline for completion of Alaska's final assessment system. After completion of the required actions and a successful peer review, the Alaska assessment system can be approved.
I ask that Alaska provide quarterly updates regarding your progress in completing the remaining requirements. Please provide evidence of completion of all the requirements to ED's Title I office by February 28, 2003. The evidence should include such items as policy guidance to local districts, sample reports, or other documents that demonstrate the changes that have been made.
I am confident that Alaska will continue to advance State and local education improvement efforts, to improve student achievement, and to maintain strong accountability for results. We wish you well in your efforts to improve school and student performance in your state.
Susan B. Neuman, Ed. D.