January 31, 2002
Honorable César A. Rey Hernández
Secretary of Education
Puerto Rico Department of Education
P.O. Box 190759
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00919-0759
Dear Secretary Rey:
The purpose of this letter is to inform you about the results of this Department's review of new evidence that the Puerto Rico Department of Education submitted to support a request for a waiver of timeline for the final assessment system under the requirements of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). A panel of bilingual experts conducted the review on December 27-28, 2001. Their experience includes the design and implementation of large-scale assessments for a State system, the development of measures in multiple languages, and research in the area of assessment of linguistically diverse students.
Based on a careful review conducted by the panel of experts, I am granting Puerto Rico a two-year waiver of timeline to conduct and conclude the activities delineated in your submission. The waiver will expire on January 2, 2004.
The process revealed a substantial improvement in the evidence Puerto Rico submitted for this review (compared to previous submissions), but the Commonwealth must still complete work in alignment, technical quality, and accountability in order to comply with Title I requirements. Your submission and proposed timeline for compliance identified and addressed these shortcomings.
The waiver is intended to allow Puerto Rico time (1) to conduct a study of the alignment between Las Pruebas Puertorriqueñas and the Commonwealth's student achievement standards, (2) to revise your current assessment by correcting the gaps identified in the alignment study, (3) to establish the validity and reliability of the revised assessment system, and (4) to produce a school accountability system that uses the revised assessment as the primary mechanism to determine adequate yearly progress.
This waiver is granted under the following conditions. Puerto Rico will --
- Provide the U.S. Department of Education with the following items:
- The ETS Alignment Study, on or before the last day of June 2002.
- Evidence that new and revised items for the assessment have been developed to address alignment gaps, on or before the last day of January 2003.
- Evidence that you have successfully piloted the revised assessment, on or before the last day of April 2003.
- Evidence that the Technical Advisory Committee (see below) has reviewed the rubrics, benchmarks, and scoring materials for revised or new items, tasks, or other student achievement exhibits for the revised assessment, on or before the last day of August 2003.
- Evidence that school profiles and performance reports were developed and disseminated, on or before the last day of September 2003.
- Evidence that a school accountability system that uses the revised assessment as the primary mechanism to determine adequate yearly progress has been implemented, on or before the last September 2003.
- Establish a panel of objective third parties (the Technical Advisory Committee) to advise the Puerto Rico Department of Education on psychometric issues related to the standards-based assessment system by the last day of March 2002.
- Identify and secure technical assistance that is timely and appropriate in meeting the assessment and accountability requirements for Title I.
- Develop, by the last day of April 2002, a timeline for technical assistance for the purpose of meeting the requirements during the waiver period. The U.S. Department of Education staff will be available for consultation and technical assistance on issues or topics related to those requirements.
- Accept the services of a mutually agreed upon peer consultant with experience in implementing a statewide, standards-based assessment system. The U.S. Department of Education will arrange for and pay the cost of the peer consultant for three visits, each of three days length.
- Provide reports, at least on a quarterly basis, to the U.S. Department of Education of activities listed on the compliance timeline.
Puerto Rico must provide evidence to the Department, before the waiver expires, showing tht all requirements have been met. The waiver will permit Puerto Rico to continue receiving Title I funds while conducting the activities needed to revise Las Pruebas Puertorriqueñas.
Please inform me, within thirty days, whether you accept the above conditions for this waiver. If the conditions under which this waiver is offered are unacceptable, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Department of Education will have until April 8, 2002 to enter into a compliance agreement. After that date, as specified in section 1111(g)(1)(B) of the ESEA, as amended, there will be no further opportunity to enter into a compliance agreement after that date.
If the Puerto Rico Department of Education fails to perform according to the timeline or violates any of the conditions, the Department will immediately take steps to withhold twenty-five percent of State administrative funds each year, as authorized by section 1111(g)(1)(A) of Title I, until the U.S. Secretary of Education determines that Puerto Rico meets the Title I assessment and accountability requirements.
Please understand that this waiver of timeline for Puerto Rico'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.
We look forward to Puerto Rico's submission of evidence warranting full approval.
Susan B. Neuman, Ed.D.