May 5, 2006
Dr. Terry Bergeson
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Washington Department of Public Instruction
P.O. Box 47200
Olympia, WA 98504-7200
Dear Superintendent Bergeson:
Thank you for submitting Washington'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 Washington's efforts to monitor student progress toward challenging standards.
External peer reviewers and U.S. Department of Education (ED) staff evaluated Washington's submission and found, based on the evidence received, that it did not meet all the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(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 Washington must provide in order to have a fully compliant standards and assessment system under NCLB. That evidence is listed on the last pages of this letter.
Also, I wanted to alert you to two issues raised during this review. First, last year, the Department approved Washington to use its writing assessment in combination with reading as an alternative option to reading alone when determining proficiency in language arts at grades 4, 7, and 10. We did so with the understanding that Washington would document with the appropriate evidence that both the reading/writing combination and the reading only option meet the required critical elements for State assessment systems. Washington did not include the writing assessment in its submission for this peer review. (Please refer to my letter dated September 1, 2005, which may be found at: http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/letters/). Second, the peers and staff raised a number of questions about the "Developmentally Appropriate Washington Assessment of Student Learning." It is not clear from the information provided if this assessment is used for accountability purposes. If the results are used for adequate yearly progress (AYP) decisions, Washington must submit the appropriate evidence to demonstrate this assessment meets ESEA's requirements.
I urge you to submit any available evidence demonstrating how Washington's system meets the standards and assessment requirements as soon as possible. I also request that, as soon as possible, you provide us a plan with a detailed timeline for how Washington will meet any remaining requirements for which evidence is not currently available. After reviewing those materials, I will then determine the appropriate approval status for Washington's standards and assessment system.
Enclosed with this letter are detailed comments from the peer review team that evaluated Washington's assessment materials. The peer reviewers, experts in the areas of standards and assessment, review and discuss a State's submission of evidence and prepare a consensus report. I hope you will find the reviewers' comments and suggestions helpful and remind you of our offer to provide you further technical assistance at your request.
We look forward to working with Washington to support a high-quality assessment system. If you would like to discuss this further, or would like to request technical assistance, please do not hesitate to call David Harmon (202-205-3554) or Catherine Freeman (202-401-3058) of my staff.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Governor Christine Gregoire
Mary Alice Heuschel
Summary of Additional Evidence that Washington Must Submit to Meet ESEA Requirements for the Washington Assessment System
1.0 - ACADEMIC CONTENT STANDARDS
- Documentation that the Superintendent officially adopted the State content standards and grade-level expectations.
2.0 - ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT STANDARDS
- Approved academic achievement standards for WASL in reading and mathematics at grades 3, 5, 6, and 8 with documentation of diverse stakeholder participation.
- Approved academic achievement standards for the DAW in reading and mathematics at grades 3-8 and 10 with documentation of diverse stakeholder participation, if used for AYP decisions.
- Approved alternate academic achievement standards for WAAS in reading and mathematics at grades 3-8 and 10 with documentation of diverse stakeholder participation.
- Additional guidelines for individualized educational plan (IEP) teams to use when deciding which assessment a student should take and additional documentation that parents are informed about and understand the consequences of agreeing to the use of an alternate assessment.
3.0- FULL ASSESSMENT SYSTEM
- Documentation of full WASL and WAAS implementation at grades 3, 5, 6, and 8 as planned during the 2005-06 school year and evidence that assessments at these grade levels measure challenging content.
- Documentation that the Developmentally Appropriate Washington Assessment of Student Learning (DAW) meets all ESEA requirements, if used for AYP decisions.
4.0 - TECHNICAL QUALITY
- Documentation of the validity and reliability of the WASL at grades 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10.
- Documentation of the validity and reliability of the WAAS at grades 3, 5, 6, and 8.
- Technical quality documentation for the WASL and WAAS standard setting in reading and mathematics at grades 3, 5, 6, and 8.
- Documentation of the technical quality (validity, reliability, standard setting) of the DAW, if used for AYP decisions.
- Final equating study technical report for the WASL at grades 4, 7, and 10 in reading and mathematics.
- Documentation that the State monitors its assessment system and testing activities with special attention to evaluating accommodations for students with disabilities and limited English proficient (LEP) students.
5.0 - ALIGNMENT
- Plans delineating on-going and long-term processes whereby alignment between the assessment(s) and the Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs) and Grade Level Expectations (GLEs) will be monitored and improved over time.
- Documentation (including detailed test blueprints and item specifications) of reading and math WASL alignment at grades 3, 5, 6, and 8 with EALRs and GLEs.
- Documentation (including detailed test blueprints and item specifications) of reading and math DAW alignment at grades 3-8 and 10 with EALRs and GLEs.
- Documentation of reading and mathematics WAAS alignment at grades 3, 5, 6, and 8 with EALRs and GLEs.
6.0 - INCLUSION
- Enrollment and number of students assessed by grade level, content area, and subgroup.
- Enrollment and number of students with disabilities assessed with the WASL, WAAS, and DAW (if used for AYP decisions) by grade level and content area.
- Guidelines for educators to determine in which assessment, WASL, WAAS, and DAW (if used for AYP decisions), a student with disabilities should participate.
- Documentation that the State is distinguishing between migrant and LEP students with regard to assessment policies and procedures.
- Documentation that procedures are in place to inform parents/guardians of students with disabilities about appropriate assessment accommodations.
7.0 - REPORTING
- Documentation that performance descriptors for the WAAS and DAW (if used for AYP decisions) are appropriately included on student assessment reports.
- Timelines for reporting assessment results to parents.