Alaska Assessment Letter

June 12, 2006

The Honorable Roger Sampson
Alaska Department of Education and Early Development
801 West 10th Street
Juneau, Alaska 99801-1894

Dear Commissioner Sampson:

I am writing to follow up on the letter that I sent you on January 25, 2006, regarding the peer review results of Alaska’s assessment system. In that letter, I detailed the additional evidence necessary for Alaska to meet the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(3) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).

Based on the subsequent information you have provided and the recommendations of the peer reviewers, the status of Alaska’s standards and assessment system is Approval Expected. This status indicates that a State has administered an assessment system in grades 3-8 and high school in 2005-06 that the evidence to date suggests is fully compliant with the statutory and regulatory requirements. There are certain elements, however, that cannot be completed by July 1, 2006, due to the nature of assessment development, such as setting academic achievement standards.

Alaska must provide the Department with the complete evidence needed to satisfy the remaining requirements, as indicated in the enclosure to this letter, before administering its assessments in the 2006-07 school year. Please provide, as soon as possible but no later than 30 days after receiving this letter, a plan, including a detailed timeline, for how Alaska will meet these remaining requirements. We will schedule a subsequent peer review, if necessary, after you have submitted your additional evidence. Please note that, because there are elements of Alaska’s system that cannot be completed by July 1, 2006, I will place a condition on Alaska’s fiscal year 2006 Title I, Part A grant award until Alaska submits the required evidence and receives approval of its assessment system.

The Department remains committed to working with Alaska to meet the requirements of NCLB and to raising the performance of all children. Toward that end, let me reiterate my earlier offer of technical assistance to you. If you have any additional questions, would like to discuss this further, or want to request technical assistance, please do not hesitate to call Zollie Stevenson ( or Abigail Potts ( of my staff.


Henry L. Johnson


cc: Governor Frank H. Murkowski
Les Morse

Summary of Additional Evidence that Alaska Must Submit to Meet ESEA Requirements for the Alaska Assessment System


  1. Documentation of the standard setting process and results from that used to set the academic achievement standards for the high school SBA’s, including evidence that the achievement standards are aligned with the State’s academic content standards and include at least three levels of student performance (basic, proficient and advanced). Further, the achievement standards must include cut scores that differentiate the levels, and a description of the procedures used to determine each achievement level.
  2. Documentation of the involvement of appropriate stakeholders and evidence of challenge for the high school achievement standards.
  3. Evidence that the high school academic achievement standards have been approved by the State Board of Education.


  1. Documentation of the technical quality of the high school assessments used for accountability.

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