April 25, 2007
The 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 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 the letter to you on June 20, 2006, the Department enumerated the fundamental components of Nevada's system as well as a number of additional technical issues that had not met the standards and assessment requirements of the ESEA. Specifically, the Department could not approve Nevada's standards and assessment system due to outstanding concerns with the alignment of Nevada's assessments with the State's academic content and achievement standards for grades 3-8 and high school and their technical quality, including the validity of all assessments and the reliability of the new assessments added in the 2005-06 school year.
In January 2007, the peer reviewers and Department staff evaluated the additional evidence submitted by Nevada and found that Nevada's system 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 achievement standards and alignment of the Nevada Alternate Scales of Academic Achievement (NASAA) assessment and the alignment of the High School Proficiency Examination (HSPE).
Because the peer review did not resolve all outstanding issues, the status of Nevada's standards and assessment system remains Approval Pending. The enclosure provides a detailed list of the evidence Nevada 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 Nevada 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. Nevada 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 Nevada 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. Toward that end, let me reiterate my earlier offer of 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 (202-260-0931) or Jeff Johnson (202-205-9923) of my staff.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
Acting Assistant Secretary
cc: Governor Jim Gibbons
Paul La Marca
Summary of Additional Evidence that Nevada Must Submit to Meet ESEA Requirements for the Nevada Assessment System
2.0 - ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT STANDARDS
- The process and decisions made in the development of the Nevada Alternate Scales of Academic Achievement (NASAA) standards for reading and mathematics, including the qualifications of participants in the standards-setting activity.
4.0 - TECHNICAL QUALITY
- Documentation articulating how the equivalence of writing tests over time is determined and ensured.
- Data that supports the current policy that accommodations yield valid scores and modifications do not.
5.0 - ALIGNMENT
- A detailed explanation of the actions that will be taken to ensure improved alignment between assessments and revised content standards as the basis for test validity.
- Evidence of alignment of the High School Proficiency Examination (HSPE) with Nevada's academic content standards.
- A plan for using alignment study results to guide future development activities to improve alignment of the tests to standards.
- Documentation of alignment between the NASAA tasks administered by teachers and grade-level content standards.