June 29, 2006
The Honorable June St. Clair Atkinson
Superintendent of Public Instruction
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
NC Education Building
6301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-6301
Dear Superintendent Atkinson:
I am pleased to approve North Carolina’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 North Carolina. I have concluded that the evidence demonstrates that North Carolina’s standards and assessment system satisfies the NCLB requirements. Specifically, North Carolina’s system includes academic content and 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, North Carolina’s system warrants Full Approval with Recommendations. This status means that North Carolina’s standards and assessment system meets all statutory and regulatory requirements, but that the assessment system could be strengthened in some ways. Specifically, though North Carolina meets the technical quality and alignment components for the North Carolina Checklist of Academic Standards (NCCLAS), we recommend that North Carolina continue to work on improving the construct validity of the NCCLAS and reliability data for students with disabilities and English language learners in future post hoc analyses. In addition, we recommend that North Carolina reconsider the approach used to examine categorical concurrence for the NCCLAS assessment.
Please be aware that approval of North Carolina’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 North Carolina makes significant changes in its standards and assessment system, the State must submit information about those changes to the Department for review and approval.
In addition, please note that North Carolina did not submit any information regarding the NCEXTEND assessment to the Department for peer review. This assessment is designed to be an alternate assessment aligned to modified achievement standards that measures grade-level extensions linked to the content standards in mathematics and reading. The Department has not published final regulations regarding modified achievement standards or their aligned assessments; until such time, the Department cannot fairly evaluate this assessment. When the Department issues final regulations, North Carolina will have to submit the NCEXTEND for peer review.
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 North Carolina.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Governor Michael Easley