November 3, 2000
Honorable J. Duke Albanese
Commissioner of Education
Department of Education
23 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0023
Dear Commissioner Albanese:
Thank you for submitting your assessment materials for review under the Title I requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. We appreciate the effort required to prepare for the review and hope that the process provides useful feedback that will support your State's efforts to monitor student progress toward challenging standards.
External peer reviewers and U.S. Department of Education staff evaluated Maine's submission and found it to be in substantial conformance with the Title I requirements. They were impressed with the progress that Maine had made in developing a sound comprehensive standards-based assessment system which supports the Title I mission to achieve high levels of learning for all students. The review found that, except for the features noted below, Maine's assessment system meets the requirements of Section 1111(b)(3) and 1116(a) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
- The State must develop a strategy for increasing the participation rates of students with disabilities and limited English proficient students in the State assessment by developing consistent, clear guidelines for local decision making on individual student exemptions and by closely monitoring exemptions at the State level. Although Maine's assessment policy supports participation in the assessment by all students, a proportion of the students with disabilities and limited English proficient population in the State currently do not appear to be assessed.
- The State must provide confirmation that it is reporting and including the results of all students, including students who take the alternate assessment, in the State's procedure for measuring school progress under Title I for the 2000-2001 test administration.
- The State must confirm that it is developing and publicly disseminating fully disaggregated state, district, and school level performance reports where statistically valid and reliable. It is my understanding that Maine intends to include all the required disaggregated data reports in the web-based reports as well as in all the printed reports.
- The State must identify and explain the appropriateness of the indicators it intends to use in its disaggregated reports for reporting economic disadvantage as compared to non-economic disadvantage.
Please send these confirmations and your plan for completing these items to Mary Jean LeTendre, Director of Title I, within 30 days of receipt of this letter. If the plan indicates that Maine will satisfy all the Title I requirements by the 2000-2001 test administration, Maine will be granted conditional approval of its final assessment system. If any of these requirements cannot be satisfied by the next administration of your State assessment, you may request a waiver of this timeline to stay in compliance with Title I. 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, additional changes are made to Maine's 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 Maine'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.
Enclosed with this letter are detailed comments from the peer review team that evaluated Maine's assessment documents. We hope this information will be useful to the Maine Department of Education in its efforts to implement a high quality assessment system.