June 22, 2006
The Honorable Gene Wilhoit
Kentucky Department of Education
500 Metro Street
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601
Dear Commissioner Wilhoit:
Thank you for your participation in the U.S. Department of Education's (Department) standards and assessment peer review process 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 appreciate the efforts required to prepare for the peer review. As you know, with the implementation of NCLB's accountability provisions, each school, district, and State is held accountable for making adequate yearly progress (AYP) towards having all students proficient by 2013-14. An assessment system that produces valid and reliable results is fundamental to a State's accountability system.
I am writing to follow up on the letter that was sent to you on May 4, 2006. In that letter we presented the results of the peer review of the Kentucky standards and assessment system and detailed the additional evidence necessary for Kentucky to meet the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(1) and (3) of the ESEA. The need for the remaining outstanding evidence, as listed in the enclosure to this letter, remains.
As you will recall, the Department laid out new approval categories in the letter to the Chief State School Officers on April 24, 2006. These categories better reflect where States collectively are in the process of meeting the statutory standards and assessment requirements and where each State individually stands. Based on these new categories, the current status of the Kentucky standards and assessment system is Approval Pending. This status indicates that Kentucky's standards and assessment system administered in the 2005-06 school year has three or more fundamental components that are missing or that do not meet the statutory and regulatory requirements, in addition to other outstanding issues that can be addressed more immediately. These deficiencies must be resolved in a timely manner so that the standards and assessment system administered next year meets all requirements. The Department believes that Kentucky can address the outstanding issues by the next administration of its assessment system, that is, by the end of the 2006-07 school year.
Kentucky's system has a number of fundamental components that warrant the designation of Approval Pending. Specifically, the Department cannot approve Kentucky's standards and assessment system due to outstanding concerns with the Kentucky Alternate Portfolio (KAP) link to grade-level content standards and separate alternate achievement standards for reading and mathematics; the technical quality of the Augmented Norm-Referenced assessments, including validity, reliability, and standard setting; and the alignment to the Core Content for Assessment. Please refer to the enclosure for a detailed list of the evidence Kentucky must submit to meet the requirements for an approved standards and assessment system.
Accordingly, Kentucky is placed under Mandatory Oversight, as authorized under 34 C.F.R. §80.12. Under this status, there will be specific conditions placed on Kentucky's fiscal year 2006 Title I, Part A grant award. In addition, Kentucky must provide, not later than 25 business days from receipt of this letter, a plan and detailed timeline for how it will meet the remaining requirements to come into full compliance by the end of the 2006-07 school year. Beginning in September 2006, Kentucky must also provide bi-monthly reports on its progress implementing the plan.
Due to the number of outstanding items that Kentucky needs to complete to come into compliance with NCLB, the Department intends to withhold 10 percent of the State's fiscal year 2006 Title I, Part A administrative funds, totaling $183,956, pursuant to Section 1111(g)(2) of the ESEA. Kentucky has the opportunity, within 20 business days of receipt of this letter, to show cause in writing why we should not withhold these funds. If Kentucky cannot show cause, the Department will withhold 10 percent of Kentucky's fiscal year 2006 Title I, Part A administrative funds, which will then revert to local educational agencies in Kentucky. Moreover, if, at any time, Kentucky does not meet the timeline set forth in its plan, the Department will initiate proceedings to withhold an additional 10 percent of the State's fiscal year 2006 Title I, Part A administrative funds.
I know you are anxious to receive full approval of your standards and assessment system and we are committed to helping you get there. Toward that end, let me reiterate my earlier offer of technical assistance. We remain available to assist you however necessary to ensure you administer a fully approved standards and assessment system. We will schedule an additional peer review when you have evidence available to further evaluate your system. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to call Abigail Potts (Abigail.Potts@ed.gov) or David Harmon (David.Harmon@ed.gov) of my staff.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Governor Ernie Fletcher Mary Ann Miller
Summary of Additional Evidence that Kentucky Must Submit to Meet ESEA Requirements for the Kentucky Assessment System
2.0 - ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT STANDARDS
- Approved academic achievement standards for the augmented norm-referenced tests (ANRT) for reading in grades 3, 5, 6, and 8, and for the augmented NRT for mathematics in grades 3, 4, 6, and 7.
- Approved alternate academic achievement standards for the Kentucky Alternate Portfolio in reading and mathematics at grades 3-8 and high school.
3.0- FULL ASSESSMENT SYSTEM
- Evidence that supports the coherence of the assessment system or at least the equivalent meaning of results of the KCCT and its new augmented Norm-Referenced tests across grades.
- A detailed plan and timeline for establishing the alternate assessment system for students in grades 3, 5, 6, and 7; how the system will be modified to provide information separately for reading and math; and delineating the process that Kentucky will use to develop the achievement standards.
- Evidence that the regular assessments match higher level thinking skills in form and balance as defined in the Kentucky Core Content for Assessment.
- 4. Documentation of ANRT implementation for reading in grades 3, 5, 6, and 8, and for the ANRT for mathematics in grades 3, 4, 6, and 7.
4.0 - TECHNICAL QUALITY
- Technical quality (validity, reliability, standard setting) of the ANRT for reading in grades 3, 5, 6, and 8, and for the ANRT for mathematics in grades 3, 4, 6, and 7.
- Technical quality (validity, reliability, standard setting) of the Kentucky Portfolio Assessment to measure reading and mathematics separately across all tested grade levels.
- Documentation that the State monitors assessment system with special attention to auditing accommodations for students with IEPs and limited English proficient students during testing.
5.0 - ALIGNMENT
- Documentation that the reading and mathematics Kentucky Core Content Tests are aligned to the Core Content for Assessment.
- Documentation that the new reading and mathematics ANRTs are aligned to the Core Content for Assessment.
- Documentation of Kentucky Alternate Portfolio alignment with the Core Content for Assessment.
6.0 - INCLUSION
- Detailed plans and documentation to ensure that the levels of inclusion found in the KCCT grades will be maintained in the grades that will be using the ANRT and the new alternate assessment.
7.0 - REPORTING
- Reports for ANRTs in reading grades 3, 5, 6, and 8, and for the ANRTs in mathematics grades 3, 4, 6, and 7.
- Mockups for the alternate assessment reports showing separate scores for reading and math.