Colordo Assessment Letter

June 27, 2006

The Honorable William J. Moloney
Commissioner of Education
Colorado Department of Education
201 East Colfax Avenue
Denver, Colorado 80203-1704

Dear Commissioner Moloney:

Thank you for your participation in the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department) standards and assessment peer review process 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). I appreciate the efforts required to prepare for the peer review. As you know, with the implementation of NCLB’s accountability provisions, each school, district, and State is held accountable for making adequate yearly progress (AYP) towards having all students proficient by 2013–14. An assessment system that produces valid and reliable results is fundamental to a State’s accountability system.

I am writing to follow up on the second peer review of Colorado’ standards and assessments, which occurred May 10-12, 2006. The results of the first peer review process indicated that additional evidence was necessary for Colorado to meet the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(1) and (3) of the ESEA. After the second review, the need for evidence remains.

As you will recall, the Department laid out new approval categories in a letter to the Chief State School Officers on April 24, 2006. These categories better reflect where States collectively are in the process of meeting the statutory standards and assessment requirements and where each State individually stands. Based on these new categories, the current status of the Colorado standards and assessment system is Approval Pending. This status indicates that Colorado’s standards and assessment system administered in the 2005–06 school year has at least two fundamental components that are missing or that do not meet the statutory and regulatory requirements, in addition to other outstanding issues that can be addressed more immediately. These deficiencies must be resolved in a timely manner so that the standards and assessment system administered next year meets all requirements. The Department believes that Colorado can address the outstanding issues by the next administration of its assessment system, that is, by the end of the 2006–07 school year.

Colorado’s system has two fundamental components that warrant the designation of Approval Pending. Specifically, the Department cannot approve Colorado’s standards and assessment system due to outstanding concerns with the technical quality and comparability of the Lectura for grades three and four and the technical quality of the CSAP including validity. Please refer to the enclosure for a detailed list of the evidence Colorado must submit to meet the requirements for an approved standards and assessment system.

Accordingly, Colorado is placed under Mandatory Oversight, pursuant to 34 C.F.R. §80.12. Under this status, there will be specific conditions placed on Colorado’s fiscal year 2006 Title I, Part A grant award. Colorado must provide, not later than 25 business days from receipt of this letter, a plan and detailed timeline for how it will meet the remaining requirements to come into full compliance by the end of the 2006–07 school year. Beginning in September 2006, Colorado must also provide bi-monthly reports on its progress implementing the plan. If, at any time, Colorado does not meet the timeline set forth in its plan, the Department will initiate proceedings, pursuant to Section 1111(g)(2) of the ESEA, to withhold 15 percent of Colorado’s fiscal year 2006 Title I, Part A administrative funds, which will then revert to local educational agencies in Colorado.

I know you are anxious to receive full approval of your standards and assessment system and we are committed to helping you get there. Toward that end, let me reiterate my earlier offer of technical assistance. We remain available to assist you however necessary to ensure you administer a fully approved standards and assessment system. We will schedule an additional peer review when you have evidence available to further evaluate your system. If you have any questions or would like to request reconsideration of the conditions, please do not hesitate to contact Abigail Potts ( or David J. Harmon ( of my staff.


Henry L. Johnson


cc: Governor William Owens
Beth Celva

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


  1. Evidence of the rigor and challenge of Colorado’s standards, benchmarks and objectives for grade 10 science.


  1. Documentation of diverse stakeholder participation in the development of Colorado’s academic achievement standards in reading, mathematics and science.
  2. Final descriptors for the CSAPA that apply to grades 3 and 4 in mathematics and grade spans 3-5 and 10-12 in science.
  3. Cut scores for the CSAPA for grades 3 and 4 in mathematics.
  4. Evidence of official approval of Colorado’s alternate achievement standards (descriptors, levels and cut scores) for assessments in grades 3-10 in reading and mathematics.


  1. Evidence of comparability of the Lectura and CSAP reading at grades 3 and 4.


  1. Additional evidence supporting the validity of the CSAP and Lectura.
  2. Documentation of how cut scores were set for grades 3-8 reading and the Lectura, including documentation of diverse stakeholder participation.
  3. Documentation explaining the relationship between the cut scores recommended by the documented standards-setting processes and the cut scores submitted as final achievement standards.
  4. Documentation that accommodations for limited English proficient students yield meaningful scores.
  5. Documentation of the technical quality of the methods used to ensure consistency of test forms over time.


  1. Enrollment and number of students assessed by grade level, content area, and subgroup based on the most recent data available.

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