July 16, 2008
The Honorable Lucille E. Davy
New Jersey Department of Education
100 River View Plaza
P.O. Box 500
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0500
Dear Commissioner Davy:
I am writing in response to New Jersey's 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 approved changes are now included in an amended state accountability plan that New Jersey submitted to the Department on July 10, 2008. I am pleased to fully approve New Jersey's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website. A summary of the amendments submitted for the 2007-08 school year is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend the New Jersey 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.
Please also be aware that approval of New Jersey's accountability plan for Title I, including the amendments approved herein, 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 New Jersey 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 Jessica Morffi (Jessica.Morffi@ed.gov) or Sharon Hall (Sharon.Hall@ed.gov) of my staff.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Jon Corzine
Amendments to New Jersey's 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 New Jersey's complete accountability plan.
The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations:
Timeline for adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations and resetting annual measurable objectives (AMOs) (Element 3.2b)
Revision: New Jersey will conduct standards setting for its new assessments in 2007-08 in grades 5, 6, 7, and 8 for reading/language arts and mathematics in August 2008, with preliminary AYP results to be available by October 31, 2008. Therefore, at the beginning of the 2008-09 school year, all schools and districts will have the same AYP status as during the 2007-08 school year. All schools and districts that cannot exit improvement status will implement the appropriate interventions prior to the start of the school year consistent with section 1116 of ESEA. If these schools and districts do not make AYP based upon the 2007-08 assessment data, they will begin offering the next level of services based on preliminary AYP results. Schools and districts on the "watch list" (i.e., schools and districts that did not make AYP for the first time based upon 2006-07 assessment data) must be notified to plan for the possibility of offering services (i.e., public school choice) and must act immediately on the preliminary building assessment reports. Schools and districts previously identified as in need of improvement that make AYP for the first time will continue to offer the same level of services as in 2007-08. Schools and districts that were previously identified as in need of improvement that made AYP in 2006-07 but do not make AYP in 2007-08 must offer the next level of services based on preliminary AYP results. Schools and districts previously identified as in need of improvement that make AYP for the second consecutive year based upon 2007-08 assessment data will no longer be identified for improvement and no action is required.
In addition, because New Jersey has new assessments in some grades, the state will reset its starting points, intermediate goals and AMOs. New Jersey must submit the new AMOs for review and approval by the Department before they may be used in AYP determinations. The proposed AMOs must increase in equal increments and each increase must occur in not more than three years as described in section 1111(b)(2)(H) of the ESEA.
Minimum group size (Element 5.5)
Revision: New Jersey will use a uniform minimum group size of 30 students for all student groups when calculating proficiency rates. As proposed in the April 2008 notice of proposed rulemaking, the Department intends to use the National Technical Advisory Council, recently established by Secretary Spellings, to review all states' minimum group sizes and provide guidance to the Department in order to ensure valid and reliable accountability systems that, to the maximum extent possible, include all students.
New school (Element 9.3)
Revision: New Jersey has established the following criteria to recognize a restructured school as new: 1) the restructured school must now serve grade levels that are at least 50 percent different than the grade levels the school previously served; and 2) the school's staff must include 50 percent more new staff members.
Participation rates (Element 10.1)
Revision: New Jersey will average participation rates up to three years if the current year's participation rate is less than 95 percent.