July 9, 2007
The Honorable Alexa Posny
Commissioner of Education
Kansas State Department of Education
120 SE 10th Avenue
Topeka, Kansas 66612-1182
Dear Commissioner Posny:
I am writing in response to Kansas' request to amend its State accountability plan 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). Following our discussions with your staff, the changes are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Kansas submitted to the Department on July 5, 2007. I am pleased to fully approve Kansas' plan, which will be posted on the Department's website. A summary of the approved amendments is enclosed with this letter. Any further requests to amend the Kansas accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I.
I want to call to your attention to one of Kansas' amendments: to abandon its new annual measurable objectives (AMOs) for 2006-07 in favor of its prior, lower AMOs. As you know, Kansas administered new assessments in grades 3-8 and high school in 2005-06. Appropriately, the State reset its starting points, AMOs, and intermediate goals for the 2006-07 school year to reflect the achievement standards of the new assessments. Kansas has now requested to reinstate its original AYP targets. While this is legally acceptable because a State is not required to reset its starting points and AMOs when it administers new assessments, it does not reflect best practice nor does the State Board's reversal in policy benefit students, who rise to the challenge of high expectations.
Please also be aware that approval of Kansas' accountability plan for Title I, including the amendments approved above, does not indicate that the plan complies with Federal civil rights requirements, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
I am confident that Kansas will continue to advance its efforts to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. If you need any additional assistance to implement the standards, assessment, and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Patrick Rooney (Patrick.Rooney@ed.gov) or Sue Rigney (Sue.Rigney@ed.gov) of my staff.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Kathleen Sebelius
Amendments to the Kansas Accountability Plan
The following is a summary of the State's amendment requests. Please refer to the Department's website (www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for the complete Kansas accountability plan.
The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations.
Assessments administered (Elements 1.1, 1.2, and 9.3)
Revision: Kansas amended its plan to indicate that the State now has assessments in grades 3-8 and to include the names of the assessments.
Achievement levels (Element 1.3)
Revision: Kansas amended the performance labels on the Kansas assessment reports and report cards as follows:
- Unsatisfactory is now Academic Warning
- Basic is now Approaches Standard
- Proficient is now Meets Standard
- Advanced is now Exceeds Standard
- Exemplary remains Exemplary
Starting points, annual measurable objectives (AMOs), and intermediate goals (Elements 3.2a, 3.2b, and 3.2c)
Revision: Kansas administered new assessments in grades 3-8 and high school in 2005-06 and reset its starting points, AMOs, and intermediate goals for the 2006-07 school year, which the Department approved on February 22, 1007. However, Kansas will reinstate its original proficiency targets for reading and mathematics, which were originally approved by the Department in the Kansas Accountability Workbook in 2003, including the original starting points (3.2a) and intermediate goals (3.2c).
Including students with disabilities in AYP determinations (Element 5.3)
Revision: Kansas will take advantage of Option 2 of the interim flexibility regarding calculating AYP for students with disabilities. See www.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/secletter/051214a.html. Specifically, Kansas will include in AYP determinations for 2006-07 the scores of students with disabilities who are proficient or above (up to a 2.0 percent cap at the district and State levels) on the Kansas Assessment with Multiple Measures (KAMM), which is based on modified academic achievement standards.
Please note that approval of this amendment by the Department does not constitute approval of the KAMM assessment or Kansas' modified academic achievement standards as part of our responsibility to ensure that State standards and assessments meet NCLB requirements.
Including students with disabilities in AYP (Element 5.3)
Revision: Kansas changed its procedures for determining which scores are to be reclassified from proficient to below proficient when scores exceed the 1.0 percent cap for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities scoring proficient and above on the alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards and the 2.0 percent cap for students with disabilities scoring proficient or above on the alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards. Pursuant to the Department's regulations, Kansas will allow a district to exceed the 2.0 percent cap provided it is under the 1.0 percent cap and so long as it does not exceed 3.0 percent total. The only exception to the 3.0 percent total will be when a waiver to exceed the 1.0 percent cap has been granted to a district by the State. To distribute a student's score that exceeds the caps, Kansas will create a preference index that takes into account whether the student's school made AYP; whether the student is in a school with a small number of students with disabilities and the group does not meet the n size (30 students); and whether the student is in a school in which some reclassifications could occur and the school will still make AYP.