Decision Letter on Request to Amend Louisiana State Accountability Plan

July 2, 2007

The Honorable Paul G. Pastorek
Superintendent of Education
Louisiana Department of Education
PO Box 94064
1201 North 3rd Street, 5th Floor
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804-9064

Dear Superintendent Pastorek:

I am writing in response to Louisiana’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). Following our discussions with your staff, the approved changes are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Louisiana submitted to the Department on June 27, 2007. I am pleased to fully approve Louisiana’s amended plan, which we will post on the Department’s website. A summary of the amendments submitted for the 2006-2007 school year is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend the Louisiana accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I.

Please also be aware that approval of Louisiana’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 Louisiana will continue to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. I wish you well in your school improvement efforts. If you need any additional assistance in implementing the standards, assessment and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Martha Snyder ( or Grace Ross (


Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.


cc: Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
Scott Norton

Amendments to the Louisiana Accountability Plan

The following is a summary of the State’s amendment requests. Please refer to the Department’s website (www.ed.gov for the complete Louisiana accountability plan.

Acceptable amendments

The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations.

Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) (Element 5.3)

Revision: Louisiana will take advantage of the interim flexibility regarding determining AYP for the students with disabilities subgroup, using option 2 in our guidance (refer to: www.ed.gov Schools and districts will include as proficient in determining AYP (up to a 2.0 percent cap at the district and State levels) students who score proficient or above on the Louisiana Alternate Assessment 2 (LAA2), an alternate assessment based upon modified academic achievement standards. Please note that approval of this amendment does not constitute approval of Louisiana’s alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards; such assessment as well as Louisiana’s modified academic achievement standards must be submitted to the Department’s standards and assessment peer review process.

Graduation Rate (Element 7.1)

Revision: Beginning with the 2006-07 AYP determinations, Louisiana will apply a four-year, on-time cohort graduation rate for the “other academic indicator” for high schools. This will apply to the overall school population and all reportable student groups when determining Safe Harbor. The cohort graduation rate will replace the non-dropout rate that Louisiana has used in previous years as the “other academic indicator’ for high school AYP determinations. The graduation rate will be lagged one year due to the timeliness of collecting this information, so the 2006-07 AYP determinations will be based upon graduation rate for the 2002-2003 entering ninth-grade cohort. Louisiana will include students with disabilities who take more than four years in the graduating cohort of the year in which they graduate so long as they receive a regular high school diploma and graduate by the academic year in which they turn twenty-two. As this is the first year of implementation, and based on the current available data, the minimum graduation rate target will be 65 percent.

Please note that the Department is approving this graduation rate target for calculating AYP for the 2006-07 school year only. To obtain approval for subsequent years, Louisiana must submit additional data to the Department after the first year’s cohort graduation rate information is available. Please note that the Department expects that Louisiana provide a more challenging graduation rate target in future years.

Unacceptable amendment

The following amendment is not aligned with the statute and regulations and is therefore not approved.

Inclusion of Students with Disabilities (Element 5.3)

The Department cannot approve Louisiana’s request to establish a growth measure for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who are assessed on alternate academic achievement standards through the LEAP Alternate Assessment 1 (LAA1). To be eligible to implement a growth model as part of the Department’s pilot, a State must have submitted a growth model proposal to the Department for review by the growth model peer review panel and have an approved standards and assessment system. The Louisiana assessment system is currently Approval Pending due primarily to concerns regarding the LAA1, including alignment to the State’s academic content standards, alignment of academic achievement standards to grade level content, and technical quality.

While the Department is not approving Louisiana’s request to apply a growth measure for students assessed on the LAA1, Louisiana may include the scores from the LAA1 in AYP determinations using the scale method previously approved and shown below (as indicated in the Louisiana School, District and State Accountability System: Bulletin 111, Chapter 39, section 3905).

LAA 1 Score Level Assessment Points
0.00-0.49 Unsatisfactory 0
0.50-2.49 Approaching Basic 50
2.50-3.49 Basic 100
3.50-4.49 Mastery 150
4.50-5.00 Advanced 200

Decision Letters on State Accountability Plans