June 27, 2007
The Honorable Lucille E. Davy
New Jersey Department of Education
100 River View Plaza
P.O. Box 500
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0500
Dear Commissioner Davy:
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).
In a letter to you on June 27, 2006, the Department enumerated one fundamental component as well as a number of additional technical issues in New Jersey's standards and assessment system that had not met the requirements of the ESEA. Specifically, the Department could not approve New Jersey's standards and assessment system due to the lack of an alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in grades 5, 6, and 7. The evidence New Jersey submitted for peer review in March 2007, demonstrated that New Jersey's regular assessment meets all NCLB standards and assessment requirements and that New Jersey administered an alternate assessments in grades 5, 6,and 7. However, the peer reviewers and Department staff evaluated New Jersey's additional submission and found, based on the evidence reviewed, that New Jersey's alternate assessments still do not meet all the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(1) and (3) of the ESEA. Specifically, as enumerated on the last page of this letter, the Department has outstanding concerns regarding alignment of the Alternate Proficient Assessment (APA) to grade-level content. Notwithstanding these concerns, New Jersey may include the results of the alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards in adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations for the 2006-07 school year, so long as the percentage of proficient and advanced scores on that assessment does not exceed 1.0 percent of all students in the grades assessed at the district or State level.
Because New Jersey was not able to address the alignment deficiencies of the APA for the 2006-07 school year, New Jersey cannot demonstrate that the full standards and assessment system it administered in 2006-07 meets ESEA requirements. As a result, New Jersey's system remains Approval Pending and New Jersey remains in Mandatory Oversight, as authorized under 34 C.F.R. §80.12. New Jersey may request reconsideration of this status by submitting its reasons, in writing, to me within 10 days of the date of this letter. Because New Jersey's standards and assessment system is not fully approved, we will place a condition on New Jersey's fiscal year 2007 Title I, Part A grant award. In addition, New Jersey must enter into an agreement with the Department demonstrating its commitment and investment of resources to be able to administer a fully approved standards and assessment system in the 2007-08 school year. Specifically, New Jersey must submit a mutually acceptable timeline for how and when the remaining work will be completed, including when evidence will be submitted for peer review. In addition, New Jersey must submit quarterly reports of its progress along this timeline. If, at any point, New Jersey does not submit the evidence required or does not administer an approved standards and assessment system in 2007-08 that meets all ESEA requirements, the Department will initiate proceedings, pursuant to Section 1111(g)(2) of the ESEA, to withhold all or a portion of New Jersey's Title I, Part A administrative funds, which will then revert to local educational agencies in New Jersey.
I appreciate the steps New Jersey 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. 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 Sue Rigney (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Abigail Potts (email@example.com) of my staff.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Jon Corzine
SUMMARY OF ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE THAT NEW JERSEY MUST SUBMIT TO MEET ESEA REQUIREMENTS FOR THE NEW JERSEY STANDARDS AND ASSESSMENT SYSTEM
5.0 - ALIGNMENT
- Documentation of the implementation of revised scoring of the APA in 2007-08 school year.
- Complete description of the standard setting procedures, panelists and evidence of formal adoption of the new alternate achievement standards.