July 26, 2006
The Honorable Peter McWalters
Commissioner of Education
Rhode Island Department of Education
255 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02903
Dear Commissioner McWalters:
I am writing in response to Rhode Island'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 changes that are aligned with NCLB are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Rhode Island submitted to the Department on June 22, 2006. A summary of the approved amendments is attached to this letter. I am pleased to fully approve Rhode Island's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website.
If, over time, Rhode Island makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, Rhode Island must submit information about those changes to the Department for review and approval, as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I. Please know that approval of Rhode Island's accountability plan is not an approval of Rhode Island's standards and assessment system.
Please also be aware that approval of Rhode Island'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 am confident that Rhode Island will continue to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. I wish you well in your school improvement efforts. If you need any additional assistance in implementing the standards, assessments and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Abigail Potts (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Sue Rigney (email@example.com) of my staff.
Henry L. Johnson
cc: Governor Donald Carcieri
Amendments to the Rhode Island Accountability Plan
This is a summary of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the Rhode Island accountability plan on the Department's website: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html.
School Accountability (Element 1.2)
Revision: Rhode Island has recently moved the elementary and middle school assessments from March to October. The newly implemented October assessments are designed to measure grade-level expectations of the prior grade. Therefore, Rhode Island will attribute the October assessment scores to the prior grade for purposes of adequate yearly progress (AYP) and will attribute participation rates to the current grade.
Method of AYP Determination (Element 3.1)
Revision: Rhode Island will replace previous statistical methods used when determining AYP with a 95 percent confidence interval applied to the percent proficient when calculating AYP.
Performance Index (3.2)
Revision: Rhode Island will adjust its performance index to account the transition to a new assessment system with four achievement levels. Rhode Island will allocate 100 index points for performance at the Proficient with Distinction and Proficient level, 75 points for performance at the Partially Proficient level, 50 points for the upper half of the Substantially Below Proficient level, 25 points for the lower half of the Substantially Below Proficient Level, and 0 points for No Score.
Uniform Averaging (3.2)
Revision: With the implementation of 3-8 assessments in 2005-06, Rhode Island will use a single year of test scores, aggregated across grades, for AYP determinations, rather than averaging scores across three years. As additional years of 3-8 assessment data become available, Rhode Island will allow schools to average one, two, or three years of data.
Method of AYP Determination (3.2)
Revision: Rhode Island will replace the standard error of measurement with a 95 percent confidence interval when calculating the percent proficient for AYP.