July 1, 2004
Honorable Gene Wilhoit
Kentucky Department of Education
500 Mero Street
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601
Dear Commissioner Wilhoit:
I am writing in response to Kentucky's request to amend its state accountability plan under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Following our discussions with your staff, those changes that are aligned with NCLB are now included in an amended state accountability plan that Kentucky submitted to the Department on June 15, 2004. A list of the changes is enclosed with this letter. Additionally, Kentucky submitted the information needed to satisfy the remaining conditions (full academic year and timely notification of adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations) that were detailed in Eugene W. Hickok's July 1, 2003 letter to you. In light of this information, I am pleased to fully approve Kentucky's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website.
If, over time, Kentucky makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, Kentucky must submit information about those changes to the Department for review and approval, as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I. Approval of Kentucky's accountability plan is not also an approval of Kentucky's standards and assessment system. As Kentucky makes changes in its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, Kentucky must submit information about those changes to the Department for peer review through the standards and assessment process.
Please also be aware that approval of Kentucky's 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 hope that you have found the accountability plan amendment process effective for implementing a state accountability system that best serves the needs of Kentucky's students and schools and that will lead to improving the academic achievement of all students. As evidenced by the diversity among state accountability plans and state consolidated applications, States have great flexibility in the design of their systems and implementation of particular NCLB provisions. If, as you implement your accountability plan, you find additional elements of your plan that you believe should be refined or amended for next school year to best serve the needs of your students and schools, I encourage you to explore all the areas of flexibility available to your State.
In addition to the flexibility available to States in the design and implementation of their accountability plans, I also encourage you and your districts to utilize the additional flexibility available for the administration and operation of NCLB programs. NCLB continued the flexibility available to States and districts under the 1994 reauthorization of the ESEA, including the ability to consolidate state and local administrative funds (sections 9201 and 9203), to operate schoolwide programs (section 1114), and to participate in the Education Flexibility Partnership Program ("Ed-Flex"). Additionally, NCLB created several new flexibility options for States and districts for the operation of federal programs. These new flexibility provisions include the State Flexibility Authority (sections 6141 through 6144), the Local Flexibility Demonstration program (sections 6151 through 6156), Transferability (sections 6121 through 6123), and the Rural Education Achievement program (sections 6201 through 6234). These flexibilities truly offer States and districts the ability to target federal resources to their unique and individual needs.
I am confident that Kentucky will continue to advance its efforts to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. I wish you well in your school improvement efforts. If I can be of any additional assistance to Kentucky in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
cc: Governor Ernie Fletcher
Amendments to the Kentucky Accountability Plan
These statements are summaries of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the Kentucky Accountability plan on the Department's website: http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html
Timely Adequate Yearly Progress Determinations (Element 1.4)
Revision: Kentucky adopted a new policy for ensuring that adequate yearly progress determinations are provided to schools and districts by August 2, of each year.
Full Academic Year (Element 2.1)
Revision: Kentucky has adopted a new definition of full academic year, which holds the state, districts and schools accountable for any student who is enrolled for 100 instructional days from the first instructional day until the first day of the state testing window.
Assessing LEP students (Element 5.4)
Revision: Kentucky will include in its accountability plan the flexibility that the Secretary's letter of February 20, 2004, provides relative to limited English proficient students for assessment and accountability purposes.
Minimum Subgroup Size (Element 5.5)
Revision: Kentucky has adopted a new minimum group size of 10 students per grade and 60 students per school or 15 percent of the school population to make it consistent with its minimum group size for participation rate.
Graduation Rate (Element 7.1)
Revision: Kentucky provided further clarification regarding the calculation of graduation rate in light of recently passed state legislation.
Participation Rate (Element 10.1)
Revision: Kentucky will adopt the new flexibility regarding multi-year averaging of the participation rate.
Revision: Kentucky provided technical updates to its workbook such as the accomplishment of tasks included in its original workbook and inclusion of the most current regulations and appendices documents.