June 17, 2005
Honorable Nancy S. Grasmick
Superintendent of Schools
Maryland Department of Education
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201
Dear Superintendent Grasmick:
Thank you for submitting Maryland'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 your State's efforts to monitor student progress toward challenging standards. Maryland is to be commended for being among the first five States submitting evidence of compliance with the NCLB standards and assessment requirements.
External peer reviewers and U.S. Department of Education staff evaluated Maryland's submission and found it to be in substantial compliance with ESEA's standards and assessment requirements. The review found that, except for the critical elements noted below, Maryland's assessment system meets the requirements of Section 1111(b)(3) of ESEA.
Additional evidence is needed to show how Maryland meets the following critical elements of the NCLB standards and assessment peer review guidance:
2.0 – Please provide performance descriptors that reflect student achievement in terms of the content competencies that a student must master at each performance level for all assessments. Additional evidence is needed regarding the extent to which the performance descriptors for the alternate assessments are related to the content area standards.
4.0 - Additional evidence is needed related to the validity and reliability of particular segments of the assessment system. For details, please see peer review notes on page 21.
5.0 - Additional evidence is needed regarding the alignment of the 3-8 reading and mathematics assessments to State standards and the plans Maryland has to address the findings from the Achieve studies in this area. Additional information is also needed related to the alignment/linkages of the Maryland alternate assessments to the State's academic content.
6.0 - Additional evidence is needed related to enrollment and student participation rates.
- 7.0 – Performance descriptors that provide student achievement results in terms of content specific competency for each performance level must be included on assessment reports at the student, school, district and State levels.
Because Maryland's standards and assessment system meets most, but not all, of ESEA’s statutory and regulatory requirements, and because after conferring with your staff, ED believes that Maryland can take the necessary steps to come into full compliance, I am offering Deferred Approval of your assessment system. To receive Deferred Approval status, a State must clearly articulate to ED how it will meet the remaining requirements and be able to fully implement its standards and assessment system by the end of the 2005-2006 school year.
Maryland must submit to ED as soon as possible its plan for coming into full compliance and the timeframe for submitting additional evidence of compliance. When the required additional evidence has been submitted, it will be subject to peer and/or ED staff review. Enclosed with this letter are detailed comments from the peer review team that evaluated the Maryland assessment materials. I hope you will find the reviewers' comments and suggestions helpful.
We look forward to working with Maryland to support a high-quality assessment system. If you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to call Zollie Stevenson, Jr. (202-260-1824) or Meredith Miller (202-401-8368) of my staff.
cc: Dr. Gary Heath
Dr. Ann Chafin