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Arkansas Assessment Letter

December 19, 2006

The Honorable Ken James
Commissioner of Education
Arkansas Department of Education
Four State Capitol Mall, Room 304 A
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201-1071

Dear Commissioner James:

I am pleased to approve Arkansas's 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). I congratulate you on meeting this important NCLB requirement.

My decision is based on input from peer reviewers external to the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) and Department staff who reviewed and carefully considered the evidence submitted by Arkansas. I have concluded that the evidence demonstrates that Arkansas's standards and assessment system satisfies the NCLB requirements. Specifically, Arkansas's system includes academic content standards in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science; student achievement standards in reading/language arts and mathematics; alternate achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in reading/language arts and mathematics; assessments in each of grades 3 through 8 and high school in reading/language arts and mathematics; and alternate assessments for those subjects.

Accordingly, Arkansas's system warrants Full Approval with Recommendations. This status means that Arkansas's standards and assessment system meets all statutory and regulatory requirements, but that the assessment system could be strengthened in some ways. While Arkansas has performance descriptors for the alternate assessment, we recommend that Arkansas improve the alternate assessment descriptors for literacy, math and science.

Please be aware that approval of Arkansas's standards and 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. Finally, please remember that, if Arkansas makes significant changes in its standards and 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. Please accept my congratulations for your State's approved standards and assessment system under NCLB. I wish you well in your continued efforts to improve student achievement in Arkansas.

Sincerely,

Henry L. Johnson

cc: Governor Mike Huckabee
Janinne Riggs

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Last Modified: 02/21/2007