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South Carolina Assessment Letter

June 17, 2005

Honorable Inez M. Tenenbaum
State Superintendent of Education
South Carolina Department of Education
1006 Rutledge Building
1429 Senate Street
Columbia, South Carolina 29201

Dear Superintendent Tenenbaum:

Thank you for submitting South Carolina'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 your State's efforts to monitor student progress toward challenging standards. South Carolina is to be commended for being among the first five States submitting evidence of compliance with the NCLB standards and assessment requirements.

External peer reviewers and U.S. Department of Education staff evaluated South Carolina's submission and found that, except for the critical elements noted below, South Carolina's assessment system meets the ESEA’s standards and assessment requirements.

Additional evidence is needed to show how South Carolina meets the following critical elements of the NCLB standards and assessment peer review guidance:

  • 1.0 - There does not seem to be sufficient evidence of involvement of education stakeholders in the development of the science content standards.

  • 1.0 - Documentation that the ELA standards for 1998 are not significantly different from the revised standards adopted in 2002. If the 2002 ELA standards are different, then the process for developing these standards must be reviewed.

  • 2.0 - Documentation that the superintendent has adopted academic achievement standards for the PACT, PACT-ALT, HSAP, and the HSAP-ALT.

  • 2.0 - For the PACT and HSAP, the State needs to include educators with expertise in educating diverse student populations, including English language learners, students with disabilities, and students living in poverty in the standards development process.

  • 2.0 - Documentation of the number and percent of students with disabilities assessed in the regular assessment (including those administered with appropriate accommodations).

  • 2.0 - Documentation must be provided to show how the interpolation on the PACT grades 4-7 was done and how the interpolation is related to content.

  • 2.0 - For the PACT-ALT, descriptors that relate to the levels of competency must be developed and a standard setting procedure must be employed.

  • 4.0 - Technical information about all the indicators for the PACT-ALT and HSAP-ALT except for (4.5) clear criteria for the administration, scoring, analysis, and reporting components of the assessments.

  • 4.0 - Technical information on reliability of the PACT science assessment.

  • 5.0 - For the PACT, reports of independent alignment studies and evidence of a systematic process for addressing any gaps or weaknesses identified in these studies.

  • 5.0 - South Carolina must submit a plan to show how it will fill the gaps in the math HSAP identified by the alignment study.

  • 6.0 - Report the percentage of students who are excluded from the participation data due to use of test modifications, including off-level tests.

  • 6.0 - Report the number of students who are receiving test accommodations.

  • 7.0 - Clarifications on how students taking modified test such as out-of-level are in the reporting system.

Because South Carolina's standards and assessment system meets most, but not all, of ESEA’s statutory and regulatory requirements and because, after conferring with your staff, ED believes that South Carolina can take the necessary steps to come into full compliance, I am offering Deferred Approval of your assessment system. To receive Deferred Approval status, a State must clearly articulate to ED how it will meet the remaining requirements and be able to fully implement its standards and assessment system by the end of the 2005-2006 school year.

South Carolina must submit to ED as soon as possible its plan for coming into full compliance and the timeframe for submitting additional evidence of compliance. When the required additional evidence has been submitted, it will be subject to peer and/or ED staff review. Enclosed with this letter are detailed comments from the peer review team that evaluated the South Carolina assessment materials. I hope you will find the reviewers' comments and suggestions helpful.

We look forward to working with South Carolina to support a high-quality assessment system. If you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to call Grace A. Ross (202-260-O967) or Kerri Briggs (202-205-2540) of my staff.

Sincerely,

Raymond Simon

Enclosure

cc: Teri Siskind
Wanda Jones

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Last Modified: 04/07/2006