August 24, 2007 – Washington Assessment Letter

August 24, 2007

The Honorable Terry Bergeson
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Washington Department of Public Instruction
P.O. Box 47200
Olympia, Washington 98504-7200

Dear Superintendent Bergeson:

Thank you for submitting Washington’s assessment materials for peer review under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). We appreciate the hard work you and your staff have undertaken to address many of the Department’s previous concerns with Washington’s assessment system, and the efforts required to prepare for the latest peer review that occurred in July 2007.

External peer reviewers and Department staff evaluated Washington’s submission and concluded, based on the evidence received, that it addresses all but one of the outstanding concerns regarding Washington’s system. I know that my staff has discussed the results of this latest review with your staff and that we had a chance to discuss them earlier this week. However, I want to take this opportunity to enumerate the piece of evidence that Washington must still provide in order to have a fully compliant system. Specifically, we did not find sufficient evidence of alignment regarding Washington’s alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities (WAAS-Portfolio). The evidence needed to address this concern is on the last page of this letter.

As noted in a letter from Assistant Superintendent Willhoft to the Department on June 30, 2007, we know that Washington has plans in place to improve the quality and alignment of the WAAS-Portfolio, including efforts to help teachers better identify work samples on academic skills linked to Washington’s Grade Level Expectations. We believe this is a good first draft of a plan to ensure improved alignment on the WAAS-Portfolio, but request that Washington work with Department staff to create a mutually acceptable timeline for how and when the work will completed. Because Washington could not demonstrate that the full standards and assessment system it administered in 2006-07 met the ESEA requirements, Washington’s system remains Approval Pending and Washington remains in Mandatory Oversight, as authorized under 34 C.F.R. §80.12. Under this status, the condition on Washington’s fiscal year 2007 Title I, Part A grant award will continue.

If, at any point, Washington does not submit the evidence required or does not administer an approved standards and assessment system in 2007-08 that meets all ESEA requirements, the Department will initiate proceedings, pursuant to Section 1111(g)(2) of the ESEA, to withhold all or a portion of Washington’s Title I, Part A administrative funds, which will then revert to local educational agencies in Washington.

I appreciate the steps Washington has taken toward meeting the requirements of the ESEA and the positive steps you have already begun taking to improve the alignment of the WAAS-Portfolio for 2007-08. I know you are anxious to receive full approval of your standards and assessment system. We are committed to helping you get there and remain available to provide technical assistance. We will schedule an additional peer review, if necessary, when you have evidence available to further evaluate your system. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact David Harmon ( or Martha Snyder ( of my staff.


Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.


cc: Governor Christine Gregoire
Bob Harmon
Joe Willhoft



  1. Documentation of reading and mathematics WAAS-Portfolio alignment at grades 3-8 and 10 with Washington’s Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs) and Grade Level Expectations (GLEs). This should include a detailed plan and timeline for conducting activities to improve reading and mathematics WAAS-Portfolio alignment at grades 3-8 and 10 with EALRs and GLEs and for collecting evidence that alignment has improved.

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