April 9, 2001
Honorable Steven O. Laing
Superintendent of Public Instruction
State Office of Education
250 East 500 South
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111
Dear Superintendent Laing:
It was a pleasure speaking with you about the outcome of the review of Utah's final assessment system under the Title I requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). We appreciate the efforts required to prepare for the final 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 submission of evidence of State-approved performance standards for secondary-level English/language arts and additional information on mathematics, Utah's assessment system meets the requirements of sections 1111(b)(3) and 1116(a) of the ESEA. In addition, as we discussed, Utah's timeline for completing the performance standards for secondary-level English/language arts will 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 Utah will take to complete the secondary-level English/language arts performance standards. When they are completed, Utah will need to submit evidence of the secondary-level, English/language arts performance standards and the other information requested for mathematics.
As we discussed, you will provide additional information on the following aspects of the Utah system:
- Participation data from the 2000-2001 test administration of the State assessment. This will be used to confirm that the assessment system includes students with disabilities and limited proficiency in English.
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- Evidence that the Title I school accountability system includes test results from the alternate assessment and out-of-level testing.
- Documentation that Utah reports results by all groups required by statute. This information will confirm that the State provides disaggregated reports for migrant students and a comparison of disabled to non-disabled students.
Please submit the above items and your request for a waiver of timeline with a plan for completing the performance standards to Joseph F. Johnson, Director of Title I, within 45 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 submitted, we will consider the assessment system for final approval.
If, over time, additional changes are made to Utah's assessment system, you must submit information about those changes to the Department as required by section 1111(e)(2) of Title I. For example, if new assessment components are added to the system, then the related test design, performance standards, documentation of technical quality, and report formats must be submitted for review and approval as part of the final assessment system.
Please note that the approval of Utah's assessment system for Title I will not mean 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 Utah's assessment documents. We hope this information will be useful to the Utah Office of Education in its efforts to implement a high-quality assessment system.
Thomas M. Corwin
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary