June 29, 2005
Dr. Trent Blankenship
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Wyoming Department of Education
2300 Capitol Avenue, 2nd Floor
Cheyenne, WY 82002-0050
Dear Superintendent Blankenship:
I am writing in response to Wyoming'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). The changes you requested are aligned with NCLB and are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Wyoming submitted to the Department on June 15, 2005. The changes are listed in an attachment to this letter.
As you know, Wyoming indicated in its accountability plan the intent to use a confidence interval for 'safe harbor' considerations. In my letter of July 1, 2004, I approved Wyoming's use of this statistical method with the condition that the State provide the Department information on the impact and implications of this approach in order to receive final approval of Wyoming's accountability plan. This condition is also reflected on Wyoming's fiscal year 2004 Title I, Part A grant award. We have now received sufficient information from States to conclude that the use of a 75% confidence interval for 'safe harbor' considerations is a viable means of determining AYP. As a result, we are now removing this condition from Wyoming's 2004 grant award. I appreciate the efforts Wyoming has made to remove the conditions on its accountability plan and ensure its ability to hold all schools accountable for the academic success of all students. I am pleased to fully approve Wyoming's amended plan, which we will post on the Department's website.
If, over time, Wyoming makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, Wyoming 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 Wyoming's accountability plan is not also an approval of Wyoming's new Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students (PAWS) system. Wyoming must submit information about the PAWS system to the Department for peer review through the standards and assessment process.
Please also be aware that approval of Wyoming'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 Wyoming 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 Wyoming in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.
cc: Governor Dave Freudenthal
Amendments to the Wyoming Accountability Plan
This attachment is a summary of the amendment. For complete details, please refer to the Wyoming Accountability plan on the Department's website: www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html.
New assessment system (Elements 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 4.1, 5.3, 6.1, 9.3, and 10.1).
Revision: Wyoming will administer new assessments in reading, writing and mathematics, Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students (PAWS), in grades 3-8 and high school beginning in April 06. Science will be added in 2007 for grades 4, 8, and 11. Wyoming will need to include the new assessments in the submission of information for peer review of the State's standards and assessment system.
Adoption of a system of rewards and consequences for both Title I and non-Title I schools (Element 1.6).
Revision: Wyoming will apply the finalized system of rewards and consequences to schools and districts on the basis of AYP determinations.
Full academic year (Element 2.2).
Revision: The full academic year will continue to start on October 1 and end on first day of the test window. In 2006, the beginning of the test window will move from March to April.
Data management (Element 2.3).
Revision: Collection of demographic information using electronic data management system begins in 2005-06.
Annual decisions (Element 4.1).
Revision: Beginning in 2006-07, Wyoming will use an early testing window in January. Schools can bank results and allow students to retest on any missed subtest in April. High school students can test twice in grades 9 and 10 and once in grade 11 prior to official administration in April of grade 11.
Graduation rate (Element 7.1).
Revision: Wyoming cannot yet collect disaggregated data for LEP or free/reduced lunch eligible students. However, Wyoming is going to be able to calculate disaggregated graduation rates for those two groups in 2005-06.