December 3, 2007
The Honorable Susan Castillo
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Oregon Department of Education
255 Capitol Street NE
Public Service Building
Salem, Oregon 97310
Dear Superintendent Castillo:
I am writing regarding our latest review of Oregon's standards and assessment system under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). We appreciate your efforts to prepare for the peer review in September. Based on the evidence received, we unfortunately find that Oregon's system still does not quite meet the statutory and regulatory requirements of sections 1111(b)(1) and 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA. I applaud the work you have done on the general assessment, which now meets all ESEA requirements. I also recognize the positive steps you have taken to develop a new alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. However, I have concerns about the alignment of this assessment to grade-level content standards, particularly because Oregon uses one assessment for all of grades 6 through 8 and 10. I know that you have already begun "phase two" under which Oregon will develop and administer a separate alternate assessment for grade 10 in 2007-08. As you develop this new alternate assessment, I have enclosed the full list of evidence that Oregon must provide for the new grade 10 alternate assessment to have a fully compliant system.
Because Oregon was not able to demonstrate that its full standards and assessment system meets all ESEA requirements, Oregon's system remains Approval Pending and Oregon remains in Mandatory Oversight, as authorized by 34 C.F.R. § 80.12. Accordingly, the condition on Oregon's fiscal year 2007 Title 1, Part A grant award will continue. In addition, Oregon must enter into an agreement with the Department demonstrating its commitment and investment of resources necessary to administer a fully approved standards and assessment system in the 2007-08 school year. This agreement must include a mutually acceptable timeline for how and when the remaining work will be completed and submitted for peer review. I believe that Oregon's current plans for implementing "phase two" of its alternate assessment will be a good starting point for this timeline. Oregon's timeline should be submitted within 15 business days of receipt of this letter. In addition, Oregon must submit bi-monthly reports of its progress along this timeline. If, at any point, Oregon does not submit the evidence required or does not administer an approved standards and assessment system in 2007-08, the Department may initiate proceedings, pursuant to Section 1111(g)(2) of the ESEA, to withhold all or a portion of Oregon's Title I, Part A administrative funds, which will then revert to local educational agencies in Oregon.
Oregon may request reconsideration of its Mandatory Oversight status by submitting in writing to me, within 10 days of receipt of this letter, a detailed discussion setting forth the basis for its belief that this designation is improper, including the specific facts that support its position.
I appreciate the steps Oregon 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 as you continue to complete the work on Oregon's alternate assessments. We will schedule an additional peer review when you have the 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 (Sue.Rigney@ed.gov) or Patrick Rooney (Patrick.Rooney@ed.gov) of my staff.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Ted Kulongoski
SUMMARY OF ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE THAT OREGON MUST SUBMIT TO MEET ESEA REQUIREMENTS FOR THE OREGON ASSESSMENT SYSTEM
2.0 - ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT STANDARDS
- Evidence of approved/adopted alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in reading/language arts and mathematics for high school.
- Evidence that the alternate academic achievement standards in high school include, for each content area:
- a. At least three levels of achievement, including two levels of high achievement (e.g., proficient and advanced) that determine how well students are mastering a State's academic content standards and a third level of achievement (e.g., basic) to provide information about the progress of lower-achieving students toward mastering the proficient and advanced levels of achievement;
- Descriptions of the competencies associated with each achievement level; and
- Assessment scores ("cut scores") that differentiate among the achievement levels.
- Documentation that the State has reported separately the number and percentage of those high school students with disabilities assessed based on alternate academic achievement standards, those assessed on an alternate assessment based on grade-level standards, if any, and those included in the regular assessment (including those administered with appropriate accommodations).
- Evidence that the State has documented the involvement of diverse stakeholders in the development of its alternate academic achievement standards.
4.0 - TECHNICAL QUALITY
- For the high school alternate assessment, evidence that the State has documented validity (in addition to the alignment of the alternate assessment with the content standards), as described in the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (AERA/APA/NCME, 1999).
- For the high school alternate assessment, evidence that the State has provided documentation of the standards-setting process including a description of the selection of judges, methodology employed, and final results.
- For the high school alternate assessment, evidence that the State has considered the issue of reliability, as described in the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (AERA/APA/NCME, 1999).
- Evidence that the State has taken steps, such as bias review of items, to ensure fairness in the development of the high school alternate assessment.
- Evidence that the State has established:
- Clear criteria for the administration, scoring, analysis, and reporting components of its high school alternate assessment; and
- A system for monitoring and improving the on-going quality of its alternate assessment.
5.0 - ALIGNMENT
- Evidence that the State has taken steps to ensure alignment between its alternate assessments for grades 6 through 8 and for high school and the State's academic content and alternate academic achievement standards.
- Evidence that the State has developed ongoing procedures to maintain and improve alignment between the high school alternate assessment and content standards over time, particularly if gaps have been noted.
7.0 - REPORTING
- Complete set of reports for the high school alternate assessment for individual students, schools, and districts.