October 12, 2000
Honorable Inez Tenenbaum
State Superintendent of Education
State Department of Education
1429 Senate Street
Columbia, South Carolina 29201
Dear Mrs. Tenenbaum:
It was a pleasure speaking with you about the outcome of the review of South Carolina's final assessment system under the Title I requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. We appreciate the effort 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.
As we discussed, the evaluation conducted by external peer reviewers and U.S. Department of Education staff found that, except for the completion of the high school assessment, South Carolina's assessment system meets the requirements of Section 1111(b)(3) and 1116(a) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. As we discussed, South Carolina's timeline for completing the high school assessments in at least reading and math by Spring 2003 does not meet the Title I requirements for a complete assessment system by the 2000-2001 test administration.
You may request a waiver of this timeline to stay in compliance with Title I. In your request, please provide a detailed timeline and the steps South Carolina will take to complete the high school assessment. When completed, South Carolina will need to submit its high school performance standards, as well as evidence of: alignment of the high school assessment with the State's content and performance standards, the technical quality of the high school assessment and the disaggregated reports for the high school assessment by the categories required by Title I.
As we discussed, you will provide additional information on the following aspects of the South Carolina system that will be, or already have been, addressed:
- A technical manual for the grades 3-8 PACT assessment to demonstrate adequate technical quality for the State assessment.
- Documentation that South Carolina is reporting and including the results of all students, including students who take alternate and off-level assessments, in the State's procedure for measuring school progress under Title I. For the purpose of school accountability, results from off-level assessments must be reported against standards for the grade in which the student is enrolled.
- Documentation that South Carolina is developing and publicly disseminating disaggregated district-level performance reports. In addition, you must provide examples of State, district, and school performance reports that include disaggregation for migrant status, where statistically sound.
Please submit these items or your plan for completing these items by the 2000-2001 test administration to Mary Jean LeTendre, Director of Title I, within 30 days of receipt of this letter. We will work with you and your staff to support and monitor the implementation of your plan. When the required items have been completed, the assessment system will be fully approved.
If, over time, additional changes are made to South Carolina's assessment system, you must submit information about those changes to the Department as required by section 1111(e)(2) of Title I.
Please note that the approval of South Carolina'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.
Enclosed with this letter are detailed comments from the peer review team that evaluated South Carolina's assessment documents. We hope this information will be useful to the South Carolina Department of Education in its efforts to implement a high quality assessment system.