June 28, 2007
The Honorable Richard H. Cate
Vermont Department of Education
120 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05620-2501
Dear Commissioner Cate:
I am writing regarding our review of Vermont's standards and assessment system under 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 Vermont's efforts to monitor student progress toward challenging standards. External peer reviewers and Department staff evaluated Vermont's submission and concluded, based on the evidence received, that it addresses a number of the outstanding concerns regarding Vermont's system. However, Vermont's standards and assessment system does not yet meet all the statutory and regulatory requirements of section 1111(b)(1) and (3) of the ESEA. I know that my staff has discussed the results of this review with your staff. However, I want to take this opportunity to enumerate the evidence that Vermont must provide in order to have a fully compliant system. Specifically, the evidence Vermont submitted for peer review on May 21-25, 2007, was not sufficient to address all required elements regarding Vermont's alternate academic achievement standards and alternate assessment for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. The complete list of evidence needed to address these concerns is on the last pages of this letter.
We know that Vermont will complete work within the next few months that may result in a fully approved standards and assessment system under ESEA. Therefore, we are not assigning an approval status to Vermont's system at this time. Because that system is not fully approved, however, we will place a condition on your fiscal year 2007 Title I, Part A grant award.
To ensure that all remaining work occurs in a timely manner, I request that, within two weeks of the date of this letter, you provide my staff with a detailed timeline for how and when Vermont will satisfy the remaining requirements. As part of that timeline, please indicate when you will submit evidence as it becomes available. We will review that evidence and schedule an additional peer review, if necessary.
If Vermont is unable to resolve the remaining issues with its assessment system by the agreed upon timeline, we will take appropriate enforcement actions as outlined in the Department's May 10, 2007 fact sheet, including the possibility of continuing Mandatory Oversight pursuant to 34 C.F.R. §80.12. For your convenience, I am enclosing a copy of that fact sheet, which is also available on the Department's website (http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/statesystems.html).
We look forward to working with Vermont to support a high-quality standards and assessment system. If you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to call Valeria Ford (202-205-2213) or Abigail Potts (202-260-2465) of my staff.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Jim Douglas
Summary of Additional Evidence that Vermont Must Submit to Meet ESEA Requirements for the Vermont Assessment System
2.0 - ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT STANDARDS
- Science academic achievement descriptors.
- Descriptions of grade-specific competencies associated with each achievement level and documentation of their formal adoption for the alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards.
- Verification of sufficiently diverse stakeholders involvement in the development of academic achievement standards for the alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards.
- Documentation of formal approval of the alternate achievement standards.
4.0 - TECHNICAL QUALITY
- Completed technical manual for the alternate assessment.
- Criteria used for scoring the alternate assessment and a copy of the score range, both raw and scale scores.
5.0 - ALIGNMENT
- An independent alignment study or results from another appropriate procedure for the alternate assessment to confirm that the final test forms are aligned with the State's academic content standards.
- Linkage between the academic content standards in mathematics and reading and the alternate achievement standards.