March 30, 2006
Honorable Tom Horne
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Arizona Department of Education
1535 West Jefferson Street, Bin Z
Phoenix, Arizona 85007
Dear Superintendent Horne:
Thank you for submitting Arizona'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 Arizona's efforts to monitor student progress toward challenging standards.
External peer reviewers and U.S. Department of Education (ED) staff evaluated Arizona's submission and found, based on the evidence received, that it did not meet all the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA. I know that my staff has discussed the results of this review with your staff. However, I want to take this opportunity to enumerate the evidence that Arizona must provide in order to have a fully compliant standards and assessment system under NCLB. That evidence is listed on the last pages of this letter.
I urge you to submit any available evidence demonstrating how Arizona's system meets the standards and assessment requirements as soon as possible. I also request that, as soon as possible, you provide us a plan with a detailed timeline for how Arizona will meet any remaining requirements for which evidence is not currently available. After reviewing those materials, I will then determine the appropriate approval status for Arizona's standards and assessment system.
Enclosed with this letter are detailed comments from the peer review team that evaluated Arizona's assessment materials. The peer reviewers, experts in the areas of standards and assessment, review and discuss a State's submission of evidence and prepare a consensus report. I hope you will find the reviewers' comments and suggestions helpful.
We look forward to working with Arizona to support a high-quality assessment system. If you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to call Carlos Martinez (202-260-2493) or Abigail Potts (202-260-2465) of my staff.
Henry L. Johnson
CC: Alexa Posny
Summary of Additional Evidence that Arizona Must Submit to Meet ESEA Requirements for the Arizona Assessment System
1.0 - ACADEMIC CONTENT STANDARDS
- Evidence that the State Board of Education has approved expanded benchmarks for grade-level expectations for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.
2.0 - ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT STANDARDS
- Evidence that cut scores for the AIMS-A have been established and approved by the State Board of Education.
3.0 - FULL ASSESSMENT SYSTEM
- Arizona meets this requirement; no additional evidence is needed. Arizona administers assessments annually to students in at least reading/language arts and mathematics in grades 3 through 8 and once in grades 10-12.
4.0 - TECHNICAL QUALITY
- Evidence demonstrating the technical quality of the alternate assessment.
5.0 - ALIGNMENT
- A plan to address the gaps in alignment identified by an external alignment study.
6.0 - INCLUSION
- Participation data based on accurate enrollment data at (or close to) time of testing.
7.0 - REPORTING
- Arizona meets this requirement no additional evidence is needed. Arizona provided evidence of student, school, district, and state reports that contains detailed information on student performance in different strands and concepts. The Department recommends that Arizona include a discussion of the precision of measurement in the interpretive guides.