July 16, 2004
Honorable Keith W. Rheault
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Nevada Department of Education
700 East 5th Street
Carson City, Nevada 89701-5096
Dear Superintendent Rheault:
I am pleased to approve Nevada'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 Nevada a waiver of timeline on July 30, 2001, to complete its final assessment system under IASA. Specifically, the timeline waiver required Nevada to: (1) develop and implement a standards-based assessment in at least reading/language arts and mathematics to be administered at some time during grades 6 through 9; (2) develop school, district, and state profiles that include the performance of all students tested, including those who participate in the alternate assessment; (3) increase the proportion of Limited English Proficient (LEP) students that participate in the State assessments; (4) develop and implement performance standards that have been defined by Nevada educators and subsequently approved or adopted by the State and develop student and school reports based on those performance standards; and (6) complete the design of a school accountability system that is based primarily on results from Nevada's standards-based assessments.
Peer reviewers external to the Department and Department staff have reviewed evidence of compliance submitted by Nevada. We have concluded that this evidence satisfies IASA assessment requirements for Title I.
We look forward to working with you as Nevada expands and improves its assessment system, including alternate assessments and issues related to technical quality, to meet the new Title I requirements for standards and assessments under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). As Nevada 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 Nevada'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 Nevada 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 Nevada.