March 25, 2003
The Honorable Raymond J. Simon
General Education Division
Arkansas Department of Education
Four State Capitol Mall, Room 304 A
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201-1071
Dear Director Simon:
I am writing with regard to the Arkansas Department of Education’s (ADE’s) compliance with the terms of the timeline waiver the ADE received to complete its final assessment system required under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994 (IASA).
The ADE has developed assessments in grade 6 in mathematics and literacy and end-of-course assessments at the high school level in algebra I, geometry, and literacy. For these assessments, the ADE submitted documentation of performance standards, alignment with Arkansas’ content standards, technical quality and reporting, and use of results in accountability decisions as required by the IASA. The ADE also addressed changes in its inclusion policies for students with disabilities (SWD) and limited English proficient (LEP) students, developed and refined alternate portfolio assessments, and provided participation rates for these groups. We submitted the ADE’s evidence to a team of outside experts for peer review. The peer reviewers’ evaluation verifies that the ADE’s evidence satisfies the assessment requirements in sections 1111(b)(3) and 1116(a) of Title I.
On the basis of the evidence the ADE provided and the peer reviewers’ recommendations, I have determined that the ADE has complied with the terms of its timeline waiver and am pleased to approve Arkansas’ final assessment system under Title I of the IASA. Please note that this approval does not cover new requirements under Title I as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
In the course of their review, the peers noted that the ADE had experienced some scoring difficulties following the 2002 administration of its alternate portfolio assessments for SWD and LEP students and use of assessment accommodations. I understand that the ADE has worked hard during the 2002-2003 school year to address these issues to ensure that SWD and LEP students are appropriately included in the 2003 assessment cycle. By August 2003, please update me on the ADE’s progress in this area, including
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participation rates for SWD and LEP students who take the standard assessments with accommodations as well as those who take the alternate assessments and an accounting of those students who do not participate. Please also provide us with information on the technical quality of the test accommodations.
Approval of Arkansas’ assessment system under 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 the ADE makes significant changes to its assessment system, you must submit information about those changes to the Department as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I.
The work and commitment Arkansas has shown in creating an assessment system for Title I of the IASA puts Arkansas well on the way to meeting the new assessment requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. You have my congratulations on a fully approved final assessment system for the IASA requirements.
Eugene W. Hickok