October 5, 2006
The Honorable Barbara Thompson
Alaska Department of Education and Early Development
801 West 10th Street
Juneau, Alaska 99801-1894
Dear Commissioner Thompson:
As you know, Alaska recently submitted for approval new alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities and a new alternate assessment aligned with those standards. These new alternate standards and assessment are part of Alaska’s standards and assessment system under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), that we approved on September 13, 2006.
Based on input from peer reviewers external to the U.S. Department of Education and Department staff, I have concluded that the evidence submitted demonstrates that Alaska’s new alternate academic achievement standards and alternate assessment meet applicable requirements. Therefore, I am pleased to approve Alaska’s standards and assessment system. I applaud Alaska’s efforts to continue to improve its system in order to better assess the achievement of all students.
Please remember that an approved assessment system under NCLB 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. As you know, if Alaska makes other significant changes in its standards and assessment system, you 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. Please accept my congratulations for your State’s approved alternate academic achievement standards and aligned assessment. I wish you well in your continued efforts to improve student achievement in Alaska.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Sarah Palin