California Assessment Letter 2

November 13, 2001

Honorable Delaine A. Eastin
Superintendent of Public Instruction
California Department of Education
721 Capitol Mall
Sacramento, California 95814

Dear Superintendent Eastin:

It was a pleasure meeting with your staff on September 28. We appreciate California???s continued efforts to meet the Title I assessment requirements. After reviewing the evidence and timelines submitted by California in May 2000 and additional evidence that we reviewed in September 2000, August, and October 2001, we have determined that several aspects of California???s assessment system do not meet the requirements of sections 1111(b) and 1116(a) of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965. However, on the basis of the additional information you provided, and upon your submission of an approvable timeline, I would be willing to grant California a timeline waiver in order to allow your State to complete the additional requirements.

As we discussed with your staff, California???s timeline for completing its final assessment system will exceed the 2000-2001 statutory deadline. To stay in compliance with the requirements of Title I, you must submit a request to waive the deadline. Please send this waiver request to me within 10 days of receipt of this letter.

In order to obtain full approval, California must complete the following tasks:

  • Follow through on the development and implementation of all components of the final assessment and accountability systems. Include timelines for development of all components and inclusion of all components in the accountability system. Show that the entire system will be in place by spring 2003, or earlier.
  • Provide evidence of the adoption of English language arts (ELA) performance standards based on the 2001 test administration. Develop and adopt mathematics performance standards for the Statewide Testing and Reporting (STAR). Provide documentation on performance standard setting, including a description of the process that will provide for equivalently rigorous standards across content areas and grade levels for both the STAR and the high school assessment. (We are enclosing the Peer Guidance for Performance Standards.)
  • Provide evidence on how the final assessment system assesses higher-order thinking skills at the high schools level.

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  • Provide evidence describing how the State???s alternative accountability system evaluates the performance of schools with fewer than 11 test scores, including how it combines groups and interprets scores.
  • Provide evidence describing how the performance of K-1 schools is evaluated and becomes part of the accountability system.
  • For the 2001 administration of the STAR and the High School Exit Examination (HSEE), provide evidence of participation rates for each grade assessed, each subject (ELA and math), and –for students with disabilities (SWD) and limited English proficient (LEP) student populations — the total enrollment, number assessed, and number exempted. The number assessed should be broken down by type of assessment accommodation (regular, standard accommodation, non-standard accommodation, and alternate assessment). Provide assessment participation rates for LEP students by type of assessment accommodation (regular, standard accommodation, non-standard accommodation). For all students, provide current participation rates for inclusion in the accountability system by grade and by subject. Provide the percent of students included in the accountability system.
  • Develop and approve a comprehensive policy on assessment guidelines and accommodations for LEP students, rather than allowing each local board of education to develop such policies. Develop a plan for implementing the new LEP inclusion policies and for monitoring local educational agency (LEA) compliance with the new inclusion policies.
  • Provide clarification of the policies in California Education Code 52052(a)(3)(A) to ensure that they are not in conflict with the ESEA statute. This section of the code appears to allow only the test scores of pupils who were in enrolled in a school district the prior fiscal year to be included in the test results reported in the Academic Performance Index (API).
  • Provide evidence that you have deleted California Education Code Section 60852, which currently allows a district to defer, for up to 24 months of a student???s enrollment in the California public school system or until a student has completed six months of instruction in reading, writing, and comprehension of the English language, the requirement that a pupil pass the high school exit examination.
  • Provide evidence of the use of the California Special Education alternate assessment program in your State???s accountability program, including technical quality, participation, success, and reporting.

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  • Provide evidence of the alignment of the content and performance standards with the fully implemented HSEE and provide a plan to fill in the gaps in the STAR that were indicated by the alignment study. This is crucial because alignment is a prerequisite for standard setting.
  • Provide individual student reports on the attainment of math student performance standards for the STAR.
  • Provide evidence that LEAs are completing school and district profiles that show student performance related to mastery of standards for the STAR and HSEE.

Enclosed with this letter are detailed comments from the peer review team that evaluated California???s assessment documents. We hope this information will be useful to the California Department of Education in its efforts to implement a high-quality assessment system. We will work with you and your staff to support and monitor the implementation of your timeline waiver. If you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Susan B. Neuman, Ed.D


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