November 16, 2006
The Honorable Dwight Johnson
Interim Executive Director
Idaho State Board of Education
PO Box 83720
Boise, Idaho 83720-0037
The Honorable Marilyn Howard
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Idaho Department of Education
650 West State Street
PO Box 83720
Boise, Idaho 83720-0027
Dear Mr. Johnson and Dr. Howard:
I am pleased to approve Idaho's assessment system under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). This approval also satisfies Idaho's remaining responsibilities to comply with the standards and assessment requirements under Title I of the ESEA, as amended by the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 (IASA), consistent with the compliance agreement executed between the Idaho State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Department on March 29, 2002. I congratulate you on meeting these important requirements.
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 Idaho. I have concluded that the evidence demonstrates that Idaho's standards and assessment system satisfies both the IASA and NCLB requirements. Specifically, Idaho'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, Idaho's system warrants Full Approval with Recommendations. This status means that Idaho's standards and assessment system meets all statutory and regulatory requirements but that the system could be strengthened in some ways. Specifically, though Idaho meets the requirements for academic achievement standards, we recommend that Idaho validate its academic achievement standards in summer 2007 to include broader-based representation of diverse stakeholders with greater numbers of panelists. In addition, we recommend that Idaho continue to work on alignment, including conducting an alignment study following the spring 2007 ISAT administration to examine the level of success of the State's major revisions and provide a basis for continued improvement. Finally, we recommend that Idaho formalize the process regarding how individual student results are delivered to parents, such as through a formal ISBE policy.
Please be aware that approval of Idaho's standards and assessment system under IASA and 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 Idaho 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 both IASA and NCLB. I wish you well in your continued efforts to improve student achievement in Idaho.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Governor James Risch