June 28, 2006
The Honorable Suellen K. Reed
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Indiana Department of Education
State House, Room 229
200 West Washington Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-2798
Dear Superintendent Reed:
I am pleased to approve Indiana'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 Indiana. I have concluded that the evidence demonstrates that Indiana's standards and assessment system satisfies the NCLB requirements. Specifically, Indiana's system includes academic content and student achievement standards in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science; alternate achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in those subjects; assessments in each of grades 3 through 10 in reading/language arts and mathematics; assessments in science in three grade spans; and alternate assessments for each subject..
Accordingly, Indiana's system warrants Full Approval with Recommendations. This status means that Indiana's standards and assessment system meets all statutory and regulatory requirements; however, two elements of the system could be improved. Indiana should continue to study and improve the reliability of the Indiana Standards Tool for Alternate Reporting (ISTAR) for use with students with disabilities and continue to increase the rigor and challenge of the Graduate Qualifying Exam (GQE) in mathematics at grade 10 in terms of alignment to grade-level content standards.
Please be aware that approval of Indiana'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 Indiana makes significant changes in its standards and assessment system, the State must submit information about those changes to the Department for review and approval.
Please note that, in response to the results of the peer review, Indiana submitted to the Department on June 22, 2006, an amendment to its Accountability Workbook to delete the ISTAR as the assessment for students who fail to meet the English proficiency standards and who have been enrolled in schools in the United States for less than three years. Indiana noted that limited English proficient (LEP) students tested with the ISTAR in fall 2005 would be counted as not participating for current determinations of adequate yearly progress. Consequently, the Department has not approved Indiana’s use of the ISTAR assessment for LEP students. If Indiana would like to include this assessment for these students in its standards and assessment system in the future, it may present additional evidence to the Department for peer review. However, the peers noted that, before the ISTAR could be approved as the assessment for LEP students who have been enrolled in schools in the United States for less than three years, Indiana would need to: establish at least three ISTAR academic achievement levels; improve the comparability of ISTEP+ and ISTAR scores at those achievement levels; and document the reliability of the ISTAR for LEP students.
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 Indiana.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Governor Mitch Daniels