March 14, 2005
Honorable Alice Seagren
Minnesota Department of Education
1500 Highway 36 West
Roseville, Minnesota 55113
Dear Commissioner Seagren:
I am pleased to approve Minnesota'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 Minnesota a waiver of timeline on April 2, 2001, to complete its final assessment system under IASA. Specifically, the timeline waiver required Minnesota to: (1) complete its standards-based assessment system for students in grades 7 (reading and mathematics), 10 (reading), and 11 (mathematics); (2) provide evidence of the alignment and technical quality of the grades 7, 10, and 11 tests; (3) provide evidence of inclusion policies for students with disabilities and limited English proficient (LEP) students; (4) report assessment results for all students with disabilities and LEP students; and (5) indicate how its assessment system will be used to determine Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
Peer reviewers external to the Department and Department staff have reviewed evidence of compliance submitted by Minnesota. We have concluded that this evidence satisfies IASA assessment requirements for Title I.
We look forward to working with you as Minnesota expands and improves its assessment system, including alignment, to meet the new Title I requirements for standards and assessments under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). As Minnesota prepares for the peer review of its standards and assessments under NCLB, 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 Minnesota'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 Minnesota 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 Minnesota.