November 3, 2000
Honorable Mike Ward
Superintendent of Public Instruction
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
301 N. Wilmington Street
Raleigh, NC 27601-2825
Dear Superintendent Ward:
Thank you for submitting your assessment materials for review under the Title I requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. We appreciate the efforts required to prepare for the final review and hope that the process provides useful feedback that will support your State's efforts to monitor student progress toward challenging standards. North Carolina is to be commended for the breadth of its assessment system, the studies that document alignment of the final assessment system with content and performance standards, and the quality of the studies that document the technical merits of the assessment system.
External peer reviewers and U.S. Department of Education staff evaluated North Carolina's submission and found it to be in substantial conformance with the Title I requirements. The review found that, except for the features noted below, North Carolina's assessment system meets the requirements of Section 1111(b)(3) and 1116(a) of Title I.
- North Carolina must develop a strategy to increase the number of students with limited English proficiency (LEP) that take End-of-Grade examinations. Please also provide us with North Carolina's guidelines to local education agencies on determining the language proficiency of limited English proficient students and state monitoring process. Currently, data provided by North Carolina for school year 1999-2000 indicates that from 40% to 46% of LEP students in grades 3 through 8 are exempted from taking the State mandated End-of-Grade assessments. This rate of exclusion from testing is excessive. Section 1111(b)(3)(G) of the statute makes clear the only category of students who are exempt from testing are students who have not attended schools in the local educational agency for a full academic year.
- North Carolina must develop a means of reporting and including for the purposes of accountability the results for students who participate in the State's alternate assessment. On the school profiles, all assessment results and exemptions must be disaggregated as required by Title I when statistically sound. The State's system for measuring Title I school progress must include all students who have attended schools in the LEA for a full academic year. There are several acceptable strategies for combining results from different assessments as well as for including the number of students exempted from testing (if any) in the State's accountability measures.
In order to complete the review process, North Carolina will need to submit a plan for making the above changes to Mary Jean LeTendre, Director of Title I, within 30 days of receipt of this letter. If the plan indicates that North Carolina will satisfy all the Title I requirements by the 2000-2001 test administration, North Carolina will be granted conditional approval of its final assessment system. At that time you will have met the assessment eligibility requirement for North Carolina's pending Ed-Flex application. 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.
Enclosed with this letter are detailed comments from the peer review team that evaluated the North Carolina assessment documents. I hope you will find the reviewers comments and suggestions helpful. We look forward to working with North Carolina to support high quality in the assessment system. If you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to call me.