August 21, 2000
Dr. John A. Tompkins
Commissioner of Education
Kansas Department of Education
120 South East Tenth Avenue
Topeka, Kansas 66612-1182
Dear Commissioner Tompkins:
I want to follow up our recent conversation regarding the review of Kansas' final assessment system under the Title I requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. We appreciate the efforts required to prepare for the final review and commend Kansas on its progress in the development of challenging standards and aligned assessments.
As we discussed, I am providing conditional approval for Kansas' final assessment system, based on the evaluation conducted by external peer reviewers and U.S. Department of Education staff. The review found that, except for the features noted below, Kansas' assessment system meets the requirements of Section 1111(b)(3) and 1116(a) of Title I.
To receive full approval as a final Title I assessment system, the following changes in Kansas' assessment policy or procedures must be made prior to the 2000-2001 administration of your assessments.
Implement State monitoring of local inclusion of limited English proficient students in the regular assessment. Although Kansas' stated policy supports participation in the assessment by all students, a substantial proportion of the limited English proficient population currently are not assessed. We understand from our conversations with you that Kansas is developing language-based accommodations that should result in greater participation of these students; however, the State must also either create uniform criteria or monitor local criteria for exemptions based on severe lack of proficiency.
Kansas' State, district, and school performance reports, as well as its system for measuring Title I school progress, currently include the results for all students who participate in the State assessment. As Kansas implements its alternate assessments in 2000-01, the State is reminded that results for students who participate in alternate assessments must be reported and included in the State's system for measuring school progress. Kansas must also include the number of students exempted from testing in State, district, and school profiles and disaggregate the data if possible. Students exempted from testing must be reflected in the State's accountability system.
Individual student reports must describe student performance in relation to Kansas' student performance standards.
Kansas currently disaggregates and reports all performance subgroups required under Section 1111(b)(3)(I) of the ESEA, except migrant status. To the extent this is statistically sound, the State must disaggregate results for migrant students in State, district, and school reports.
While Kansas' practice of approving local assessments that are used as part of the identification of low performing schools under Title I is acceptable, the criteria for approval must be made explicit since this is Kansas' procedure for assuring technical quality of the local assessments that contribute to school accountability judgements.
We would appreciate it if you would send a plan for making these changes to Mary Jean LeTendre, Director of Title I, within 60 days of receipt of this letter. We will work with you and your staff to support and monitor the implementation of your plan. When the required changes have been completed, the assessment system will be fully approved.
If, over time, changes are made to the Kansas assessment system, you must submit information about those changes to the Department as required by section 1111(e)(2) of Title I.
Please note that the approval of Kansas' assessment system for Title I will not necessarily mean 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.
Enclosed with this letter are detailed comments from the peer review team that evaluated the Kansas assessment documents. We hope this information provides useful feedback that will support your State's efforts to monitor student progress toward challenging standards.