July 5, 2007
The Honorable Rafael Aragunde Torres
Secretary of Education
Puerto Rico Department of Education
P.O. Box 190759
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00919-0759
Dear Secretary Aragunde:
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 am writing to provide feedback from the most recent peer review on May 25, 2007. The results of this review indicate that, based on the evidence received, Puerto Rico's standards and assessment system still does not meet all of the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(1) and (3) of the ESEA. Specifically, the Department cannot approve Puerto Rico's standards and assessment system due to outstanding concerns with the alignment of the Las Pruebas de Aprovechamiento Académico (PPAA) to grade-level content standards and the performance level descriptors for the alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (Las Pruebas Puertorriqueñas de Evaluación Alterna, or PPEA). The enclosure provides a detailed list of the evidence Puerto Rico must still submit to meet the requirements for a fully approved standards and assessment system.
Because the latest peer review did not resolve all outstanding issues, the status of Puerto Rico's standards and assessment system remains Approval Pending. As you will recall, I laid out the approval categories and consequences in a conversation with the Chief State School Officers on May 10, 2007. Because the status of Puerto Rico's standards and assessment system is Approval Pending, a condition will be placed on Puerto Rico's fiscal year 2007 Title I, Part A grant award.
In addition, due to the scope and significance of the areas in which Puerto Rico's system does not meet ESEA's statutory and regulatory requirements, particularly concerns with both the PPAA and PPEA, we ask that Puerto Rico enter into a Compliance Agreement with the Department, as authorized by Section 457 of the General Education Provisions Act. The purpose of a Compliance Agreement is to enable a grantee to remain eligible to receive funding while coming into full compliance with applicable requirements as soon as feasible but within three years. The Department and the State will need to agree on the components of the Compliance Agreement, including a detailed plan and specific timeline for how Puerto Rico will accomplish the steps necessary to bring its system into compliance. In addition, before entering into a Compliance Agreement, the Department must hold a hearing to explore why full compliance with the Title I standards and assessment requirements is not feasible until a future date. The State, affected students and their parents, and other interested parties may participate. The Department must publish findings of noncompliance and the substance of the Compliance Agreement in the Federal Register.
Finally, because there remain significant concerns with both the PPAA and the PPEA for the 2006-07 school year, the Department intends to withhold 25 percent of Puerto Rico's fiscal year 2007 Title I, Part A administrative funds, totaling $1,138,973, pursuant to Section 1111(g)(2) of the ESEA. Puerto Rico has the opportunity, within 30 business days of receipt of this letter, to show cause in writing why we should not withhold these funds. If Puerto Rico cannot show cause, the Department will withhold 25 percent of Puerto Rico's fiscal year 2007 Title I, Part A administrative funds, which will then revert to Title I, Part A funds available for allocation to schools in Puerto Rico.
I appreciate the steps Puerto Rico 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 move forward in meeting the remaining requirements of the ESEA, please let us know what additional assistance we can provide. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact Valeria Ford (Valeria.Ford@ed.gov) or Patrick Rooney (Patrick.Rooney@ed.gov) of my staff.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá
Waldo Torres Vázquez
SUMMARY OF ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE THAT PUERTO RICO MUST SUBMIT TO MEET ESEA REQUIREMENTS FOR THE PUERTO RICO ASSESSMENT SYSTEM
2.0 - ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT STANDARDS
- Documentation of the approval of the revised performance level descriptors (PLDs) by the Director of Education or that the Director has delegated that authority to the Undersecretary.
- A process for assuring or judging that the panels used to review and revise the PLDs for the Basic level for the PPEA are representative.
4.0 - TECHNICAL QUALITY
- An analysis of the efficacy and validity of accommodations for Las Pruebas de Aprovechamiento Academico (PPAA), including:
- Descriptions and guidelines for linguistic accommodations to the Manual de acomodos and display the same thorough descriptions of linguistic accommodations as the other four categories; and
- Data on the use of accommodations and how the data are interpreted and used to improve the assessment system.
- An analysis of concurrent validity for the PPAA.
5.0 - ALIGNMENT
- Administration of an assessment aligned to grade-level academic content standards, as well as an independent analysis of its alignment.
- Evidence that the Depth of Knowledge (DOK) level of the items matches the DOK level of the academic content standards and that the full range of knowledge, skills, and abilities described in the academic content standards is covered on the tests.
- Documentation for the alignment of non-academic indicators as components of the score on Las Pruebas Puertorriqueñas de Evaluación Alterna (PPEA).
6.0 - INCLUSION
- An expansion of linguistic accommodations for limited Spanish proficient (LSP) students, such as English versions or simplified Spanish versions of the mathematics and science assessments.
- An explanation for the apparent exclusion of students eligible to take the PPEA.
- A report that shows data from box 21 of the PreID sheet by category so that it is clear which students were exempted from assessment and for what reason(s).
7.0 - REPORTING
- An explanation of how the four non-academic dimensions of the PPEA are included in a student's score.
- Reports that include definitions of the proficiency levels in the individual content area for all assessed grade levels. In addition, evidence that the parent report for all grades includes the definitions of proficiency levels for the individual content areas.