March 21, 2006
Honorable Keith W. Rheault
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Nevada Department of Education
700 East 5th Street
Carson City, Nevada 89701-5096
Dear Superintendent Rheault:
Thank you for submitting Nevada'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 Nevada's efforts to monitor student progress toward challenging standards.
External peer reviewers and U.S. Department of Education (ED) staff evaluated Nevada's submission and found, based on the evidence received, that it did not meet all the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(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 Nevada must provide in order to have a fully compliant standards and assessment system under NCLB. That evidence is listed on the last pages of this letter.
I urge you to submit any available evidence demonstrating how the system meets the standards and assessment requirements as soon as possible. I also request that, as soon as possible, you provide us a plan, including a detailed timeline, for how Nevada will meet any remaining requirements. When Nevada has submitted this additional evidence and plan, the peer reviewers and ED staff will review it. My staff will work with you to schedule a second peer review as soon as possible. After that review, I will then determine the appropriate approval status for Nevada's standards and assessment system.
Enclosed with this letter are detailed comments from the peer review team that evaluated Nevada's assessment materials. The peer reviewers, experts in the areas of standards and assessment, review and discuss a State's submission of evidence and prepare a consensus report. I hope you will find the reviewers' comments and suggestions helpful.
We look forward to working with Nevada to support a high-quality assessment system. If you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to call Sue Rigney (202-260-0931) or Patrick Rooney (202-205-8831) of my staff.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Paul La Marca
Summary of Additional Evidence that Nevada Must Submit to Meet ESEA Requirements for the Nevada Assessment System
1.0 - CONTENT STANDARDS
Nevada meets this requirement; no additional evidence is needed. Nevada statute created a Council to Establish Academic Standards.
2.0 - ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT STANDARDS
- Provide details regarding how and when performance descriptors will be developed for the revised science content standards.
- Provide details regarding the development of achievement standards, including descriptors and cut scores in reading and mathematics for grades 4, 6, and 7.
- Clarify the process and decisions made in the development of NASAA standards for reading and mathematics, including the qualifications of participants in the standard setting activity.
- Provide a detailed plan for developing NASAA in science.
- Clarify the process for informing parents that their child's achievement will be based on alternate achievement standards and the consequences of that decision.
3.0 - FULL ASSESSMENT SYSTEM
- Clarify the criteria for using local tests for LEP students and evidence that this information has been shared with all LEAs.
4.0 - TECHNICAL QUALITY
- Provide evidence of assessment validity for all assessments, including the NASAA, including match of purpose/use to decisions, consequences, and the relationship of test performance to other variables.
- Provide evidence of the writing assessment standard setting procedure and a description of how the equivalence of writing tests over time is determined and ensured.
- Provide a description of standard setting for the four achievement levels now reported on the HSPE.
- Provide reliability information after the administration of new assessments at grades 4, 6, and 7.
- Provide the final accommodations manual when completed and evidence that it is provided to schools with appropriate training.
- Provide data that supports the current policy that accommodations yield valid scores and modifications do not. In addition, provide current or planned evaluations of the use of accommodations.
- Provide information on how equivalence of assessments over time is determined and ensured after the initial assessment administration at grades 4, 6, and 7.
5.0 - ALIGNMENT
- Clarify the relationship between State content standards, State tests, and locally assessed standards.
- Provide documentation of alignment between assessments and content and achievement standards for grades 4, 6, and 7.
- Provide evidence detailing how the HSPE is aligned with high school content standards.
- Provide a plan for using alignment study results to improve the alignment of the assessments to standards.
- Provide evidence of an alignment review of the writing assessments.
- Clarify the process for confirming that NASAA assessments are linked to grade level content standards.
6.0 - INCLUSION
Nevada meets this requirement; no additional evidence is needed. Nevada provided evidence of a full participation policy for students with disabilities and limited-English-proficient students. Nevada should consider three issues raised during the Peer Review that are beyond the NCLB statute: denial of accommodations to gifted and talented students, failure to report performance for homeless students, and the high stakes consequences of modification of the HSPE.
7.0 - REPORTING
Nevada meets this requirement; no additional evidence is needed. The State provided adequate evidence of its compliance with NCLB reporting requirements.