July 30, 2004
Honorable Ted Stilwill
Director of Education
Iowa Department of Education
Grimes State Office Building
East 14th & Grand Streets
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0146
Dear Director Stilwill:
I am pleased to approve Iowa'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 your assessment system to meet fully the IASA assessment requirements.
The Department granted Iowa a waiver of timeline on October 25, 2001, to complete its final assessment system under IASA. Specifically, the timeline waiver required Iowa to provide the Department with documentation of an assessment system aligned to the State defined academic content and achievement standards; documentation of an assessment system that includes all students, in particular LEP students and students with disabilities; and documentation of a reporting/accountability system that reflects the achievement of all students relative to State standards in all required disaggregated categories.
Peer reviewers external to the Department and Department staff have reviewed evidence of compliance submitted by Iowa. We have concluded that this evidence satisfies IASA assessment requirements for Title I.
We look forward to working with you as Iowa expands its assessment system to meet the new Title I requirements for standards and assessments under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). As Iowa prepares for the peer review of its standards and assessments under NCLB, I encourage you to review carefully the "Standards and Assessments Peer Review Guidance: Information and Examples for Meeting Requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001." The purpose of this document is twofold: (1) to inform States about what would be useful evidence to demonstrate that they have met NCLB standards and assessments requirements; and (2) to guide teams of peer reviewers who will examine the evidence submitted by States and advise the Department as to whether a State has met the requirements. I have enclosed a copy of this document with this letter.
Please be aware that approval of Iowa'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 Iowa 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. I wish you well in your continued efforts to improve student achievement in Iowa.