August 27, 2001
Honorable Faye Taylor
Commissioner of Education
Tennessee Department of Education
Sixth Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0375
Dear Commissioner Taylor:
Congratulations on your recent appointment as Commissioner of Education for the State of Tennessee. Over the last several months, this office has been working with your agency regarding Tennessee's status in meeting the requirements of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. We wrote to former Commissioner Coffey on May 7 informing him that Tennessee did not yet meet the assessment requirements of Title I, and proposed that he request a "timeline waiver" for meeting these requirements. Dr. Coffey submitted a request to the Department for a timeline waiver on July 10. We requested some additional information, which your agency provided on August 8.
Tennessee has requested that a two-year timeline waiver of the deadline for completion of the assessment requirements. The purpose of this letter is to respond to that request.
I understand that it will take about two years for Tennessee to add an advanced level of performance to the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) assessments for grades 3-8 and the Tennessee high school assessments in English and Algebra I. I also understand that you intend to complete, by Spring 2002, studies to show that high school mathematics content standards and the Tennessee Algebra I test are aligned.
Further, it will take about two years for you to complete implementation of new inclusion polices and accommodations, to incorporate student performance data for all students into the evaluation of school progress, to generate technical reports on the final assessments included to be included in measuring school progress, and to generate disaggregated reports that include all of the Title I requirements. In light of this information, I agree to grant a two-year waiver of the timeline for completion of Tennessee's final assessment system. Once you have submitted satisfactory evidence that Tennessee has met the remaining requirements, and we have peer reviewed it, we will be able to grant final approval of Tennessee's assessment system.
I ask that your agency provide quarterly updates regarding your progress in completing the remaining requirements. The actions included in Tennessee's plan must be completed no later than Fall 2003. Please provide evidence of completion for all of the final assessment system action steps to our Title I office. The evidence should include such items as policy guidance to local districts, sample reports, or other documents that demonstrate changes made.
I am confident that Tennessee will continue to advance State and local education improvement efforts, to improve student achievement, and to maintain strong accountability for results.
We wish you well in your efforts to improve school and student performance in your state.
Susan B. Neuman, Ed.D.