December 26, 2002
Honorable Christine Jax
Minnesota Department of Children, Families and Learning
1500 Highway 36 West
Roseville, Minnesota 55113-4266
Dear Commissioner Jax:
The purpose of this letter is to respond to your request for a waiver of the timeline to complete Minnesota's final assessment system under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Minnesota's Comprehensive Assessments for grades 3 and 5 have been completed, and we are particularly impressed with the manner you have addressed the "inclusion" issue. However, in order to fully meet the requirements, Minnesota must complete development and administration of a reading assessment for grades 7 and 10, and a mathematics assessment for grades 7 and 11. You have scheduled the first tenth and eleventh grade tests for administration in March 2003, and the seventh grade assessment is under contract and will be administered in January 2004. You will need to submit for our review and approval performance standards for these assessments, as well as provide evidence of their alignment with your content standards and of their technical quality.
The Department requests that your State also complete the following related components of its assessment system:
Minnesota must provide evidence that its inclusion policies for assessment in grades 7, 10 and 11 allow access by students with disabilities and English language learners. In consideration of the requirement that all students participate in the State assessment, we expect assessment results to be reported for all students, including those who take an alternate assessment, and that those results will be included in determinations of school progress.
Consistent with the requirements of Title I, Minnesota's assessment results must be disaggregated by gender, race/ethnicity, English language learner status, migrant status, economically disadvantaged students as compared to students who are not economically disadvantaged, and students with disabilities as compared to non-disabled students. Minnesota meets most of these requirements but must add the category of migrant to its data reporting system in order to fully meet these requirements.
Minnesota must indicate how your State will determine adequate yearly progress for grades 7, 10 and 11, taking into consideration the current definition applicable to grades 3 and 5. In addition, we will need to receive a description of Minnesota's plan to implement accountability requirements for its middle and high schools.
In consideration of the scope of work associated with the development and administration of the grade 7, 10 and 11 assessments, I agree to grant your request for a waiver of the timeline for completion of your final assessment system. This waiver will expire on January 31, 2004.
The maximum duration of time established in the Title I requirements for final assessment development versus the amount of time remaining for Minnesota's assessment development necessitates that execution of this timeline waiver be comprehensive and accelerated. To the extent practicable, Minnesota must develop and complete performance standards for the grades 7, 10 and 11 assessments, and complete applicable portions of the technical manual prior to the expiration of this timeline waiver. Overall, we expect that Minnesota will closely monitor the assessment design and development process to ensure compliance with all requirements related to alignment and technical quality.
We ask that Minnesota provide quarterly updates with supporting documentation regarding its progress in completing the final assessment requirements. The initial report is due to the Department by February 1, 2002. We anticipate your continuous progress in this endeavor. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Susan B. Neuman, Ed.D