June 27, 2006
The Honorable Susan T. Zelman
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Ohio Department of Education
25 South Front Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215-4163
Dear Superintendent Zelman:
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). I appreciate the efforts required to prepare for the peer review. As you know, with the implementation of NCLB's accountability provisions, each school, district, and State is held accountable for making adequate yearly progress (AYP) towards having all students proficient by 2013-14. An assessment system that produces valid and reliable results is fundamental to a State's accountability system.
I am writing to follow up on the peer review of Ohio's standards and assessments, which occurred May 8-10, 2006. The results of this peer review process indicated that additional evidence, as listed in an attachment to this letter, was necessary for Ohio to meet the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(1) and (3) of the ESEA.
As you may recall, the Department laid out new approval categories in the letter to the Chief State School Officers on April 24, 2006. These categories better reflect where States collectively are in the process of meeting the statutory standards and assessment requirements and where each State individually stands. Based on these new categories, the current status of the Ohio system is Approval Pending. This status indicates that Ohio's standards and assessment system administered in 2005-06 has one fundamental component that does not meet the statutory and regulatory requirements, in addition to other outstanding issues that can be addressed more immediately. These deficiencies must be resolved in a timely manner so that the standards and assessment system administered next year meets all requirements. The Department believes that Ohio can address the outstanding issues by the next administration of its assessment system, that is, by the end of the 2006-07 school year.
Ohio's system has one fundamental component that warrants the designation of Approval Pending. Specifically, the Department cannot approve Ohio's standards and assessment system due to outstanding concerns with the alignment of the Ohio Achievement Tests (OAT) to grade-level content standards in reading and mathematics. In addition, Ohio needs to develop proficiency level descriptors (PLDs) for the alternate assessment that distinguishes, at a minimum, between the 3-5 and the 6-8 grade spans, and that distinguish among three levels of proficiency. Please refer to the enclosure for a detailed list of evidence Ohio must submit to meet the requirements for an approved standards and assessment system.
Accordingly, Ohio is placed under Mandatory Oversight, pursuant to 34 C.F.R. §80.12. Under this status, there will be specific conditions placed on Ohio's fiscal year 2006 Title I, Part A grant award. Ohio must provide, not later than 25 business days from receipt of this letter, a plan and detailed timeline for how it will meet the remaining requirements to come into full compliance by the end of the 2006-07 school year. Beginning in September 2006, Ohio must also provide bi-monthly reports on its progress implementing the plan. If, at any time, Ohio does not meet the timeline set forth in its plan, the Department will initiate proceedings, pursuant to Section 1111(g)(2) of the ESEA, to withhold 10 percent of Ohio's fiscal year 2006 Title I, Part A administrative funds, which will then revert to local educational agencies in Ohio.
I know you are anxious to receive full approval of your standards and assessment system and we are committed to helping you get there. Toward that end, let me reiterate my earlier offer of technical assistance. We remain available to assist you however necessary to ensure you administer a fully approved standards and assessment system. 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 request reconsideration of the conditions, please do not hesitate to contact Patrick Rooney (Patrick.Rooney@ed.gov) or Carlos Martinez (Carlos.Martinez@ed.gov) of my staff.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Governor Bob Taft
Summary of Additional Evidence that Ohio Must Submit to Meet ESEA Requirements for State Assessment Systems
2.0 - ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT STANDARDS
- Evidence of proficiency level descriptors (PLDs) for the alternate assessment that distinguishes, at a minimum, between the 3-5 and the 6-8 grade spans, and that distinguish among three levels of proficiency.
5.0 - ALIGNMENT
- Evidence of alignment in cognitive complexity, and degree and pattern of emphasis, or the result of an independent alignment study that demonstrates alignment on these dimensions.
7.0 - REPORTING
- Reports at all levels (State, district, school) for migrant students.