June 29, 2007
The Honorable Lyonel B. Tracy
Commissioner of Education
New Hampshire Department of Education
101 Pleasant Street
Concord, New Hampshire 03301
Dear Commissioner Tracy:
I am writing regarding our review of New Hampshire's standards and 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). We appreciate the efforts required to prepare for the peer review and hope that the process provides useful feedback that will support New Hampshire's efforts to monitor student progress toward challenging standards.
External peer reviewers and Department staff evaluated New Hampshire's submission and concluded, based on the evidence received, that it addresses a number of the outstanding concerns regarding New Hampshire's system. However, New Hampshire's standards and assessment system still does not yet meet all the statutory and regulatory requirements of section 1111(b)(1) and (3) of the ESEA. I know that my staff has discussed the results of this review with your staff. However, I want to take this opportunity to enumerate the evidence that New Hampshire must provide in order to have a fully compliant system under NCLB. Specifically, New Hampshire must submit evidence to address several elements regarding New Hampshire's alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. The complete list of evidence needed is on the last page of this letter.
We know that New Hampshire will complete work within the next few months that may result in a fully approved standards and assessment system. Therefore, we are not assigning an approval status to New Hampshire's system at this time. Because that system is not fully approved, however, we will place a condition on your fiscal year 2007 Title I, Part A grant award.
To ensure that all remaining work occurs in a timely manner, I request that, within two weeks of the date of this letter, you provide my staff with a detailed timeline for how and when New Hampshire will satisfy the remaining requirements. As part of that timeline, please indicate when you will submit evidence as it becomes available. We will review that evidence and schedule an additional peer review, if necessary.
If New Hampshire is unable to resolve the remaining issues with its assessment system by the agreed upon timeline, we will take appropriate enforcement actions as outlined in the Department's May 10, 2007 fact sheet, including the possibility of continuing Mandatory Oversight pursuant to 34 C.F.R. §80.12. For your convenience, I am enclosing a copy of that fact sheet, which is also available on the Department's website (http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/statesystems.html).
We look forward to working with New Hampshire to support a high-quality standards and assessment system. If you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to call Valeria Ford (202-205-2213) or Abigail Potts (202-260-2465) of my staff.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
cc: Governor John Lynch
Summary of Additional Evidence that New Hampshire Must Submit to Meet ESEA Requirements for the New Hampshire Standards and Assessment System
2.0 - ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT STANDARDS
- Science academic achievement descriptors.
- Descriptions of grade-specific competencies associated with each achievement level and documentation of formal adoption of the achievement standards for all assessments.
- Verification that sufficiently diverse stakeholders are involved in the development of alternate academic achievement standards for the alternate assessments.
5.0 - ALIGNMENT
- Documentation that the alternate assessment reflects both the content and skills specified in the academic achievement standards.
- Document that alternate academic achievement standards are linked to reading and math GLEs.
6.0 - INCLUSION
- Verification that all students enrolled during the testing window are tested, accounting for "NT Approved", "NT Other", and not tested for "other reasons."
- Policies adopted by the state regarding the participation of every limited English proficient (LEP) student in the assessment system, including policies regarding "recently arrived" LEP students, and participation of migrant and other mobile students.