January 19, 2001
Richard P. Mills
Commissioner of Education
New York Education Department
111 Education Building
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12234
Dear Commissioner Mills:
It was a pleasure speaking with you about the outcome of the review of New York's final assessment system under the Title I requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. We appreciate the efforts required to prepare for the review and hope that the process provides useful feedback that will support your State's efforts to monitor student progress toward challenging standards.
The evaluation conducted by external peer reviewers and U.S. Department of Education staff found that New York's current assessment program substantially meets the requirements of Title I, but that a few details related to reporting and use of results have not yet been completed. To fully meet the requirements of Section 1111(b)(3) and 1116(a) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, New York must address the following tasks.
Modify the existing school report materials to include all disaggregated data and performance comparisons as required by Title I; and provide assurance of local distribution of individual student reports.
Administer and report results from the Alternate Assessment and devise a method of including the results as a measure of school progress at grades 4 and 8.
Approve revisions to the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education as needed to support these changes.
Because these actions can not be completed prior to the spring 2001 administration of the New York assessments, I agree to grant a one-year waiver of the timeline for completion of New York's final assessment system.
Please send your plan for making these changes to Jackie Jackson, Acting Director of Title I, within 30 days of receipt of this letter. To support progress on your plan during the coming year, Sue Rigney from this office will contact Nancy Streeter and any other staff you may designate. Please provide evidence of completion to the Title I office by January 31, 2002. This evidence may take the form of revised regulations, sample reports, explanatory materials disseminated to school and districts, or other documents that demonstrate that the changes have been made. 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 New York's assessment documents. We hope this information will be useful to the New York Department of Education in its efforts to implement a high quality assessment system.
I am confident that New York will continue to advance State and local education improvement efforts, to improve student achievement, and to maintain strong accountability for results.