August 23, 2004
Honorable Wayne Sanstead
State Department of Public Instruction
600 East Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505-0440
Dear Superintendent Sanstead:
I am pleased to approve North Dakota'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 North Dakota a waiver of timeline on July 30, 2001 to complete its final assessment system under IASA. Specifically, the timeline waiver required North Dakota to provide ED documentation of a State assessments system that demonstrates (1) performance standards aligned with content standards; (2) revised policies for students with disabilities and limited English proficient (LEP) students; (3) participation data for students with disabilities and LEP students; (4) technical quality information on all components of the system; (5) school, local educational agency (LEA), and State reports, by performance standards levels, using disaggregated data on all required categories; and (6) information on how these new standards-based assessments will be used to determine LEA and school adequate yearly progress.
Peer reviewers external to this Department and Department staff have reviewed evidence of compliance submitted by North Dakota. We have concluded that this evidence satisfies the IASA assessment requirements for Title I.
As North Dakota prepares for 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 North Dakota'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 North Dakota makes significant changes in 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 North Dakota.