February 17, 2004
The Honorable Roger Sampson
Alaska Department of Education and Early Development
801 West 10th Street
Juneau, Alaska 99801-1894
Dear Commissioner Sampson:
I am pleased to approve Alaska’s assessment system under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994 (IASA). I appreciate your cooperation in making the changes in Alaska’s assessment system to meet fully the IASA assessment requirements.
The Department granted Alaska a waiver of timeline on September 6, 2001, to complete its final assessment system under IASA. Specifically, the timeline waiver required Alaska to: 1) study and implement either a Native Language assessment or linguistically appropriate accommodations for limited English proficient (LEP) students; 2) develop and implement a policy to include LEP students in Alaska’s standards-based assessments; 3) establish data collection procedures and processes that permit the collection of accurate participation rate information and compile evidence that all high school students are being included in Alaska’s high school graduation assessments; 4) implement an accurate data disaggregation and reporting system for student performance at the local, district and State levels; 5) provide information on the alignment and technical quality of Alaska’s benchmark, alternate, and accommodated assessment instruments; and 6) provide evidence that Alaska’s academic achievement standards are aligned with Alaska’s academic content standards.
Peer reviewers external to the Department and Department staff have reviewed evidence of compliance submitted by Alaska. We have concluded that this evidence satisfies the IASA assessment requirements for Title I.
Please be aware that approval of Alaska’s assessment system for Title I is not a determination that the system 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. Finally, please remember that if Alaska makes significant changes to its assessment system, the State must submit information about those changes to the Department for review and approval.
We have found it a pleasure working with your staff on this review. Congratulations on a fully approved assessment system under IASA. We look forward to working with you as you expand Alaska’s assessment system to meet the new Title I requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, and wish you well in your efforts to improve student achievement in your State.