March 24, 2006
The Honorable Patricia Hamamoto
Hawaii Department of Education
P.O. Box 2360
Honolulu, Hawaii 96804
Dear Superintendent Hamamoto:
Thank you for submitting Hawaii'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.
External peer reviewers and U.S. Department of Education (ED) staff evaluated Hawaii's submission and found, based on the evidence received, that it did not meet the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(3) of ESEA. Further, based on information Hawaii has provided about future timelines designed to conduct and complete this assessment work, it does not appear you will administer a system that complies with these requirements until Spring 2007 at the earliest.
Based on this information, it seems unlikely that I will be able to approve Hawaii's assessment system for the 2005-06 school year. As a result, the Department has a range of options to consider in helping Hawaii move to a compliant system including: entering into a compliance agreement with the State, withholding Title I, Part A State administrative funds, or placing the State into mandatory oversight status. These possible outcomes of an unapproved system were detailed in a letter to chief state school officers on January 19, 2005 (refer to www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/saapr2.doc for this letter). I would like to talk with you and your staff before finalizing this decision about Hawaii's assessment system and determining a course of action to ensure that Hawaii can implement the very critical assessment requirements of NCLB in as timely a fashion as possible.
I have taken the unusual step of writing this short letter without details about the findings of the peer review to start the discussions. My team is compiling more detailed feedback based on the peer review, which I will send following our conversation. As part of our conversation, I would like to discuss the following issues with you: critical findings of the peer review regarding the assessment system, technical assistance the Department can offer to help Hawaii meet the assessment requirements, a timeline for developing and administering a fully compliant assessment system, and implications for accountability. I would also like to discuss the plans Hawaii has for a new standards and assessment system that will be implemented during the 2006-07 year.
Enclosed with this letter are detailed comments from the external peer review team that evaluated the Hawaii's 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.
I will call soon to arrange a discussion with you and your staff about Hawaii's standards and assessment system. I know first hand the challenges of leading a State education agency and know how hard you and your colleagues have been working to achieve these goals. I am confident we can work together to plan and implement the necessary steps to help Hawaii implement a high-quality assessment system that will achieve the goals of NCLB.
Henry L. Johnson
CC: Governor Linda Lingle