April 30, 2007
The Honorable Alice Seagren
Minnesota Department of Education
1500 Highway 36 West
Roseville, Minnesota 55113
Dear Commissioner Seagren:
Thank you for submitting Minnesota's assessment materials for an additional peer review under the standards and assessment requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).
In a letter to you on November 6, 2006, the Department enumerated the fundamental components as well as a number of additional technical issues that had not met the standards and assessment requirements of the ESEA after the first and second peer reviews. Specifically, the Department could not approve Minnesota's standards and assessment system due to concerns with the academic achievement standards; technical quality, including the reliability and validity of all components of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments Series II (MCA-II); the technical quality, alignment, and academic achievement standards of the alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards; and the inclusion of LEP students in the assessment system.
The peer reviewers and Department staff evaluated Minnesota's additional submission and found, based on the evidence received, that it still does not meet all the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(1) and (3) of the ESEA. Specifically, the peer review of this evidence suggests that there remain concerns regarding the academic content standards, the alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards, and the Mathematics Test for English Language Learners (MTELL).
Because the peer review did not resolve all outstanding issues, the status of Minnesota's standards and assessment system remains Approval Pending. The enclosure provides a detailed list of the evidence Minnesota must still submit to meet the requirements for a fully approved standards and assessment system. I encourage you to bring in all available evidence for review by the peers at the earliest possible convenience. Please note that Minnesota must address all outstanding issues in order to have a fully compliant standards and assessment system under the ESEA by the end of the 2006-07 school year. Minnesota continues to be under Mandatory Oversight, as authorized under 34 C.F.R. §80.12, and the condition on your Title I, Part A grant award will continue.
I appreciate the steps Minnesota has taken toward meeting the requirements of the ESEA, and I know you are anxious to receive full approval of your standards and assessment system. We are committed to helping you get there and remain available to provide technical assistance regarding issues that you identify. 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 contact Valeria Ford (Valeria.Ford@ed.gov) or Patrick Rooney (Patrick.Rooney@ed.gov) of my staff.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
Acting Assistant Secretary
cc: Governor Tim Pawlenty
Summary of Additional Evidence that Minnesota Must Submit to Meet ESEA Requirements for the Minnesota Assessment System
1.0 - ACADEMIC CONTENT STANDARDS
- 1. Documentation on how the content standards in mathematics are challenging and rigorous.
2.0 - ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT STANDARDS
- Documentation of alternate achievement standards linked to grade-level content standards.
- Evidence of participation of a diverse group of stakeholders in the development of the alternate achievement standards.
4.0 - TECHNICAL QUALITY
- Technical manual for the alternate assessment.
- Comparability of the Math Test for English Language Learners (MTELL) to the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments Series II (MCA-II). This includes comparability at each grade level and comparability of individual tests over time.
- Evidence that the use of accommodations on the MCA-II results in valid scores and that those scores can be aggregated with scores from non-accommodated assessments.
5.0 - ALIGNMENT
- Study of the alignment between the alternate assessments, the content standards, and the alternate achievement standards.
- Results of the linking and validity study planned for the MTELL.
- Evidence of a plan and timeline that specifies when and how the State will use the information from the alignment study to strengthen the overall alignment.
6.0 - INCLUSION
- Documentation and data to show that all students are included in the assessment system.
- Training documents for Individualized Education Program (IEP) team members regarding State guidelines for determining students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who will be assessed based on alternate achievement standards and training documents provided to parents regarding the alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards.
7.0 - REPORTING
- 1. Complete series of alternate assessment reports and reports for the MTELL. Evidence should include information that students taking the alternate assessment are aggregated into the totals for the school, district, and State.