November 10, 2005
The Honorable Joseph B. Morton
State Superintendent of Education
Gordon Persons Building
PO Box 302101
Montgomery, Alabama 36130-2101
Dear Superintendent Morton:
Thank you for submitting Alabama's assessment materials for review under the standards and assessment requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). We appreciate the efforts required to prepare for the peer review and hope that the process provides useful feedback that will support your State's efforts to monitor student progress toward challenging standards.
External peer reviewers and U.S. Department of Education (ED) staff evaluated Alabama's submission and found, based on the evidence received, that it did not meet most of the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(3) of ESEA. However, based on consultations with your staff, ED expects that Alabama can take the necessary steps to come into full compliance this school year. The status of the Alabama assessment system is Final Review Pending. This status was designated for Alabama because the State must complete grades 3, 5, and 7 of the Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test (ARMT). In this status, a State must clearly articulate to ED how it will meet the remaining requirements and be able to fully implement its standards and assessment system by the end of the 2005-2006 school year.
Summaries of the critical elements that did meet the NCLB standards and assessment requirements follow. The summaries provide Alabama with the critical elements that have been approved and will not need further review as well as those that partially met the requirements.
1.0 - Academic Content Standards: Alabama meets the requirements for development of content standards in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science under NCLB.
2.0 - Academic Achievement Standards: Alabama meets the requirements for standards in reading and mathematics in grades 4, 6, 8, and 11. For science, the State meets the academic achievement standards in grade 11. Since the assessments still are being developed, the State does not meet the requirements in grades 3, 5, and 7 in reading and mathematics. The State has not completed academic achievement standards descriptors or cut scores in the elementary or middle school grade spans for science (not due until 2007-2008). The State partially meets the requirements for alternate achievement standards.
3.0- Full Assessment System: Alabama does not meet this requirement for assessments in grades 3-8 in reading and mathematics and the Alabama Alternate Assessment because no information was submitted for grades 3, 5, and 7.
4.0 - Technical Quality: Alabama meets technical requirements for assessments in grades 4, 6, 8 and 11 in reading and mathematics. Additional technical information must be provided for the high school science test. The State does not meet the technical requirements for the alternate assessment. No information was submitted for grades 3, 5, and 7 in reading and mathematics.
5.0 - Alignment: Alabama meets alignment requirements for assessments in grades 4, 6, 8 and 11 in reading and mathematics. The State does not meet the alignment requirements for the alternate assessment and the high school science assessment. No information for grades 3, 5, and 7 was submitted.
6.0 - Inclusion: Alabama partially meets the requirements for inclusion of students in the assessments.
7.0 - Reporting: Alabama partially meets the requirements for reporting of students in ARMT and the Alabama High School Graduation Exam (AHSGE). Alabama partially meets the requirement for individual student reports on the Alabama Alternate Assessment.
Additional evidence is needed to show how Alabama meets the critical elements identified as partially or not meeting the requirement under the NCLB standards and assessment peer review guidance. More detailed information about the additional evidence that will be needed in order to be in compliance is outlined beginning with page four.
When the required additional evidence has been submitted, it will be subject to peer and ED staff review. A second peer review will need to be scheduled consistent with the previously announced dates. Enclosed with this letter are detailed comments from the peer review team that evaluated the Alabama assessment materials. The peer reviewers are experts in the areas of standards and assessments. They reviewed and discussed the State's submission of evidence and prepared a consensus report that is documented as the Peer Notes. I hope you will find the reviewers' comments and suggestions helpful.
We look forward to working with Alabama to support a high-quality assessment system. If you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to call Grace A. Ross (202-260-0967) or Meredith Miller (202-401-8368) of my staff.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Dr. Gloria Turner
Requirements for Alternate Assessments
For full approval of the State assessment system, Alabama's current alternate assessment must meet the following requirements:
- Yield results separately in reading and math.
- Provide clear guidelines to all LEAs for student participation.
- Designed and implemented in a manner that supports use of results for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
- Aligned with State content standards.
- Assessment design is appropriate for school accountability measure (i.e., results are comparable across schools and districts: evidence includes test blueprint, test administration manual or administrator training materials, scoring rubric and scoring procedures).
- If local assessments are employed, requirements in 200.3(c) are met.
- State provides evidence of technical quality.
- Includes evidence of validity, reliability, accessibility, objectivity, and consistency with nationally recognized professional and technical standards.
- Includes description of the standard-setting process employed; the judges who participated in standard setting and their qualifications; and state adoption of the resulting alternate achievement standards.
- Reports results to teachers and parents in a manner consistent with the alternate achievement standards.
Additional Evidence Needed for Alternate Assessment
For full approval Alabama will need to submit acceptable evidence for the Alabama Alternate Assessment of compliance in the following areas:
2.0 - ALTERNATE ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT STANDARDS
- Documentation of the standard-setting process employed.
- Documentation of performance descriptors that reflect specific competencies.
- Documentation of judges who participated in the standard setting and their broad -based qualifications.
- For AYP purposes, documentation that shows how reading and math are used for the alternate academic achievement standards.
- Clarification of the grade levels of the alternate assessments.
3.0 - FULL ASSESSMENT SYSTEM
- Documentation that the State's alternate assessment is designed and implemented in a manner that supports use of results for AYP.
4.0 - TECHNICAL QUALITY
- Evidence that procedures are in place that address data quality control.
- Documentation of the scoring rubric and scoring procedures.
- Evidence that the assessment design is appropriate for school accountability measures (e.g., results are comparable across schools and districts).
- Evidence of consistency of the scoring decisions including how the Alabama Alternate Assessment scores are interpreted for student classifications by proficiency levels.
- Evidence of reliability of proficiency level determinations.
- Evidence that the AAA scores for reading and math are clear and separate and exclude non-academic IEP goals.
5.0 - ALIGNMENT
- Evidence of the review of the alignment of the content standards with the alternate assessment.
7.0 - REPORTING
- Supporting information to help parents understand the individual student reports.
- An individual student report for the AAA must have the following qualities:
- Provide valid and reliable information for each student on the academic content and achievement standards expected of all students.
- Display this information in a format that is understandable to parents, teachers, and principals.
- Provide detailed information on student achievement to the level that maintains the validity and reliability of the assessment (subject, competency, skill, etc.).
Additional Evidence Needed for the ARMT and AHSGE
For full approval Alabama will need to submit acceptable evidence for the Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test (ARMT) and Alabama High School Graduation Exam (AHSGE ) of compliance in the following areas:
3.0 - FULL ASSESSMENT SYSTEM
- Documentation that the assessments in grades 3, 5, and 7 have been implemented in reading and mathematics for the ARMT and AHSGE.
4.0 - TECHNICAL QUALITY
- Evidence that procedures are in place that address data quality control for the ARMT and AHSGE.
- Since the high school assessment is being redesigned, new evidence of technical quality of the AHSGE in science.
5.0 - ALIGNMENT
- Evidence that the weaknesses in the alignment of the grade 11 science assessment have been addressed.
6.0 - INCLUSION
- Participation rates for all subgroups for all assessments from the 2005 administration of the tests.
7.0 - REPORTING
- Evidence sufficient to account for the participation and assessment results for all students and for each of the required subgroups in the reports at the school, district, and State levels.