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Texas Assessment Letter

June 17, 2005

Honorable Shirley Neeley
Commissioner of Education
Texas Education Agency
William B. Travis Building
1701 North Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas 78701-1494

Dear Commissioner Neeley:

Thank you for submitting Texas' 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. Texas 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 Texas' submission and found, based on the evidence received, that it did not meet a preponderance of the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(3) of ESEA. Additional evidence is needed to show how Texas meets the following critical elements of the NCLB standards and assessment peer review guidance:

  • 2.0 - Evidence of competency-based content specific performance descriptors will need to be submitted for review for each assessment that Texas is using for NCLB accountability.

  • 3.0 - Evidence that there is comparability among the assessments that are aligned to the States challenging academic content standards but administered to different populations of students, specifically the Spanish version of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), the Reading Proficiency Test in English (RPTE), the State Developed Alternate Assessment (SDAA) with the TAKS.

  • 4.0 - Evidence regarding the technical quality of the Texas alternate assessments, the SDAA and Locally Developed Alternate Assessments and each of the other assessments being used for NCLB accountability.

  • 5.0 - Evidence for the alignment of the Texas assessments used for NCLB accountability to the State's academic content and student academic achievement standards, including alignment studies.

  • 6.0 - Evidence that all students are being included in at least one of the assessments that Texas administers for NCLB accountability. Data is needed on the number and percentage of students taking each assessment by subgroup, including those assessed on an alternate achievement standard (e.g., the SDAA and LDAA) and those assessed on alternate assessments aligned with grade-level standards (RPTE and Spanish TAKS).

  • 7.0 - Information regarding how the Locally Determined Alternate Assessment (LDAA) as currently configured meets the NCLB requirements for reporting. In addition, student achievement results must be stated in terms of content competencies at each level of performance on reports generated at the student, school, district and State levels.

Because Texas' standards and assessment system does not meet most of ESEA's statutory and regulatory requirements, and because after conferring with your staff, ED believes that Texas can take the necessary steps to come into full compliance, I am offering Final Review Pending of your assessment system. To receive Final Review Pending 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.

I know Texas is developing a plan for coming into full compliance and a timeframe for that compliance. When the required additional evidence has been submitted, it will be subject to peer and ED staff review. Enclosed with this letter are detailed comments from the peer review team that evaluated the Texas assessment materials. I hope you will find the reviewers' comments and suggestions helpful.

We look forward to working with Texas to support a high-quality assessment system. If you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to call Valeria Ford (202-205-2213) or Kerri Briggs (202-205-2540) of my staff.

Sincerely,

Raymond Simon

Enclosure

cc: Ms. Lisa Chandler
Mr. Cory Green

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Last Modified: 04/07/2006