October 16, 2001
Honorable Marilyn Howard
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Idaho Department of Education
Len B. Jordan Office Building
650 West State Street
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, Idaho 83720
Dear Superintendent Howard:
It was a pleasure speaking with you during my introductory telephone call in July. I look forward to working with you in improving educational opportunities for children.
I am writing to you regarding the status of Idaho's final assessment system in meeting Title I requirements. On July 19, Rosemary Ardinger and other Idaho Department of Education staff met with Mitzi Beach and Zollie Stevenson, Jr., of my staff and provided additional written assessment information for peer review. External peer reviewers completed their review on September 21 and have indicated that no substantial new evidence was provided in support of Idaho's final assessment system.
After reviewing peer review findings regarding the assessment evidence and timelines submitted by Idaho in October 2000 and the additional evidence submitted by Idaho on July 19, 2001, we have determined that Idaho remains substantially out of compliance with sections 1111 and 1116 of Title I. In order to remain eligible to receive Title I funds, Idaho must enter into a compliance agreement with the U.S. Department of Education, specifying the steps the State will take to fully meet the Title I requirements and the timeline for completing those steps.
Additional clarity is needed regarding Idaho's plans to fully comply with the Title I requirements. We will need additional information on Idaho's proposed standards based assessment system, the process that Idaho will use to establish performance standards, the alignment and technical quality of the components of the proposed Idaho assessment system, information on how Idaho plans to include all limited English proficient students in the State assessment system, and the State's use of student performance data for all students in determining school accountability. Questions also exist regarding Idaho's intent to disaggregate student performance on Idaho assessments by the elements required by the Title I statute at the district and school levels.
Finally, Idaho needs to clarify the components of its final assessment system and the contribution of that system to a school or district's Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
We summarize at the end of this letter the areas that Idaho must address in order to meet Title I requirements. Nearly all of the items are the same as those that you previously received from this Department. A copy of the peer review findings are provided for your information.
Because the information provided is not substantial enough for ED to grant approval or offer Idaho a timeline waiver, Idaho must enter into a compliance agreement with the Department of Education in order to remain eligible to receive Title I funds. A compliance agreement is a statutory remedy authorized by section 457 of the General Education Provisions Act for situations in which a State or local educational agency cannot meet statutory requirements within the timeframe specified by law. Its purpose is to bring a grantee into full compliance with applicable requirements as soon as feasible, but no longer than three years.
The Department and the State will need to agree on the components of the compliance agreement, including a detailed plan and specific timeline for all of the steps necessary to bring the State into compliance. Before entering into a compliance agreement, the Department will provide Idaho with a hearing at which to demonstrate that full compliance is not feasible until a future date and will publish findings of noncompliance and the substance of the compliance agreement in the Federal Register. When the required steps have been completed, we will resubmit evidence that the assessment system meets the Title I requirements to a panel of peer reviewers for review.
This is the second review of information provided by Idaho. We are prepared to immediately begin to work with you to address the issues raised in this letter and to develop the details of the compliance agreement. We believe it is possible to complete work on this agreement within 60 days. Members of my staff are available to meet with you in Boise to discuss and clarify the peer review findings and to work out the details of implementing a compliance agreement.
We look forward to working with Idaho to support a high-quality assessment system. If you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to call Mitzi Beach, Group Leader for Compensatory Education Programs, at 202-260-0823.
Susan B. Neuman, Ed.D. Assistant Secretary
SUMMARY OF TITLE I REQUIREMENTS TO BE ADDRESSED
Based on the material submitted to date, Idaho will need to provide or develop the following in order to meet the Title I requirements. This list may change as Idaho clarifies its plans for the development and implementation of the standards-based assessments and responds to the issues raised.
- Idaho must provide information on Idaho's proposed standards based assessment system. A copy of the development contract for the new assessment system needs to be provided to ED. When the new assessment system is implemented, what will be the role of local assessments in the Idaho full assessment system?
- Idaho permits local data to account for 50 percent of the weight in determining school and district accountability. Title I requires each State plan to demonstrate that the State has developed or adopted a set of high-quality, yearly student assessments that will be used as the primary means of determining the yearly performance of each local educational agency and school served under Title I, Part A. Idaho needs to provide evidence that its accountability system will allow the results of the Idaho final assessment system, including local assessments where applicable, to be the primary indicators of adequate yearly progress.
- Idaho must provide evidence that performance standards have been developed and implemented and that they are aligned with Idaho's content standards and the Idaho assessment system that is being developed.
- Idaho needs to provide clear and concise information on the enrollment of LEP students and SWDs in the State at the assessed grade levels and provide information on the number of LEP students and SWDs who take the standard form of the Idaho assessments and the Idaho assessments with accommodations, and the number of those students exempted or excluded from the Idaho assessment program.
- Idaho must provide a copy of its LEP inclusion policy and provide documentation that the State Board of Education has approved it. Included in the LEP policy should be information on accommodations for LEP students. A plan for implementing the new LEP inclusion policies and for monitoring LEA compliance with the new inclusion policies when they are approved should also be provided.
- Idaho must submit information on the technical quality of the Idaho alternate assessment for SWD as well as information that indicates the extent to which accommodations associated with the norm-referenced tests and State-developed assessments yield valid results for SWD, as well as information regarding any accommodations that are planned for the Direct Mathematics and Writing assessments and the technical quality of those accommodated assessments.
- Idaho needs to document how it will incorporate performance data for SWD and LEP students into its reporting of results for assessment and accountability purposes.
- Idaho must provide evidence regarding the extent to which the components of the Idaho Assessment Program are aligned with Idaho standards. Since a new standards-based assessment system has been proposed, how does Idaho plan to establish if the new assessment is aligned with Idaho content and performance standards? How will Idaho provide evidence that Idaho assessments possess cognitive complexity? Gaps and weaknesses of the assessment system should also be identified.
- Idaho must provide technical information on each of the components of the Idaho Assessment Program and information on how Idaho ensures the fairness of its assessments for all students.
- Idaho must provide evidence on how the multiple measures that have been incorporated in the Idaho Assessment Program affect the validity, reliability, and fairness of those assessments.
- Idaho must disaggregate student performance by gender, race/ethnicity, migrant status, disability (versus non-disability), economic disadvantage (versus non-disadvantaged), and limited English proficiency status at the LEA and school levels. In addition, it must add economic disadvantage to the categories that are currently being disaggregated at the State level.
- Idaho must define for LEAs which students are to be included in determining adequate yearly progress (AYP) for schools and LEAs.
- Idaho needs to provide a plan for evaluating the AYP of its small schools and K-3 schools.