July 2, 2010
The Honorable Alice Seagren
Commissioner of Education
Minnesota Department of Education
1500 Highway 36 West
Roseville, Minnesota 55113
Dear Commissioner Seagren:
I am writing in response to Minnesota's request to amend its state accountability plan under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended. In particular, Minnesota requested permission to use the two percent transition flexibility with respect to accounting for the achievement of students with disabilities in AYP determinations based on assessments administered in the 2009–2010 school year, as previously offered by the Department. See http://www.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/modachieve-summary.html;
During the 2007–2008 and 2008–2009 school years, the Secretary permitted a State that was moving expeditiously to adopt and administer an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards (AA-MAAS), and that met the criteria established by the Secretary, to use certain flexibility in accounting for the achievement of students with disabilities in AYP determinations. The Secretary offered this flexibility pursuant to the authority in 34 C.F.R. § 200.20(g), which explicitly limited this flexibility to the 2007–2008 and 2008–2009 school years. In accordance with the terms of that regulatory provision, the transition flexibility that was previously offered is no longer available. As a result, the requested amendment is not aligned with the Title I regulations and, therefore, is not approved. Accordingly, Minnesota's currently approved workbook, without the proposed amendment, will remain effective.
As you know, any further requests to amend Minnesota's accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I of the ESEA. In the meantime, I am confident that Minnesota 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 the ESEA, please do not hesitate to contact (Vicki.Robinson@ed.gov) or (Sue.Rigney@ed.gov) of my staff.
Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Tim Pawlenty