July 30, 2004
Honorable Lana Seivers
Tennessee Department of Education
Sixth Floor - Andrew Johnson Tower
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0375
Dear Commissioner Seivers:
I am pleased to approve Tennessee'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 Tennessee a waiver of timeline on August 31, 2001, to complete its final assessment system under IASA. Specifically, the timeline waiver required Tennessee to: (1) add an advanced level of performance to the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment program (TCAP) assessments for each grade level assessed; (2) complete alignment studies for the high school language arts and mathematics assessments; (3) implement revised inclusion policies for students with disabilities and English language learners and new assessment accommodations; (4) incorporate the performance data of all students into the evaluation of school progress; (5) generate updated TCAP technical reports; and (6) design disaggregated reports that include all of the Title I reporting requirements.
Peer reviewers external to the Department and Department staff have reviewed evidence of compliance submitted by Tennessee. We have concluded that this evidence satisfies IASA assessment requirements for Title I.
We look forward to working with you as Tennessee expands its assessment system to meet the new Title I requirements for standards and assessments under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). As Tennessee 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 Tennessee’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 Tennessee 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 Tennessee.