September 2, 2004
Honorable Thomas D. Watkins
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Michigan Department of Education
608 West Allegan Street, 4th Floor
Lansing, MI 48933
Dear Superintendent Watkins:
I am pleased to approve Michigan'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 Michigan a waiver of timeline on July 30, 2001, to complete its final assessment system under IASA. Specifically, the timeline waiver required Michigan to provide: (1) evidence that an "Advanced" level had been added to its achievement standards for all grades tested; (2) evidence of new inclusion policies and practices; and (3) disaggregated assessment reports consistent with IASA requirements. Peer reviewers external to the Department and Department staff have reviewed evidence of compliance submitted by Michigan. We have concluded that this evidence satisfies the IASA assessment requirements for Title I.
We look forward to working with you as Michigan expands and improves 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 Michigan prepares for the peer review of its standards and assessments under NCLB, you will also want to pay particular attention to the requirements for disaggregated and detailed reports for all grades assessed. 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 Michigan'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 Michigan 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 Michigan.