Decision Letter on Request to Amend New Mexico Accountability Plan

July 23, 2008

The Honorable Veronica C. Garcia
Secretary of Education
State of New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501

Dear Secretary Garcia:

I am writing in response to New Mexico’s request to amend its State accountability plan 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). Following our discussions with your staff, the approved changes are now included in an amended state accountability plan that New Mexico submitted to the Department on June 30, 2008. I am pleased to fully approve New Mexico’s amended plan, which we will post on the Department’s website. A summary of the amendments submitted for the 2007-08 school year is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend New Mexico’s accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I of the ESEA.

Please also be aware that approval of New Mexico’s accountability plan for Title I, including the amendments approved herein, 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 New Mexico will continue to advance its efforts to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. If you need any additional assistance to implement the standards, assessment, and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Jessica Morffi ( or Grace Ross ( of my staff.


Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.


cc: Governor Bill Richardson
Carlos Martinez

Amendments to New Mexico’s Accountability Plan

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

Acceptable amendments

The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations:

Inclusion of all schools (Element 1.1)

Revision: In situations where a feeder pattern is not available, (e.g. newly formed charter schools without a tested grade level) the school district’s achievement results for the appropriate grade band and adequate yearly progress (AYP) designation will be applied to the school until a tested grade level is established or the students are promoted to a tested grade level where New Mexico’s approved feeder-school methodology is possible.

Grade levels assessed (Element 1.2)

Revision: New Mexico will assess all students in grades 3 through 8 and 11 as required by NCLB. Due to fiscal constraints, New Mexico will no longer administer an assessment in grade 9. Schools that only enroll 9th-grade students will be evaluated using the feeder-school methodology already established in New Mexico’s approved accountability workbook.

Including students with disabilities in AYP determinations (Element 3.2)

Revision: New Mexico is approved to use the “proxy method” (option 1 in our guidance dated December 2005 and described in the Department’s Non-Regulatory Guidance regarding Modified Academic Achievement Standards) to take advantage of the transition flexibility authorized in 34 C.F.R. § 200.20(g) regarding calculating AYP for the students with disabilities subgroup. See the Secretary’s guidance at: www.ed.gov New Mexico will calculate a proxy to determine the percentage of students with disabilities that is equivalent to 2.0 percent of all students assessed. For this year only, this proxy will then be added to the percentage of students with disabilities who are proficient. For any school or district that did not make AYP solely due to its students with disabilities subgroup, New Mexico will use this adjusted percentage proficient to re-examine whether the school or district made AYP for the 2007-08 school year.

Performance index (Element 3.2b)

Revision: New Mexico’s accountability workbook previously included a performance index. However, New Mexico does not apply that index when making AYP determinations and has eliminated it from its workbook to clarify and reflect current practice.

Inclusion of students with disabilities (Element 5.3)

Revision: Scores of students who were previously identified as students with disabilities will be included in AYP calculations for the students with disabilities subgroup for up to two years after those students stop receiving special education services.

Inclusion of students with limited English proficiency (LEP) (Element 5.4)

Revision: New Mexico clarifies the definition of English language learners (previously called limited English proficient-ELL/LEP) to be consistent with section 9101(25) of the ESEA.

Graduation rate (Element 7.1)

Revision: New Mexico will delay the use of a cohort graduation rate for one additional year in order to capture summer graduates in 2008. The graduation rate will be comprised of the number of first time 9th graders in 2004-05 that successfully met graduation requirements by September 1, 2008. The rate will be reported in 2008-09 in order to include summer 2008 graduates, developing a one-year lag.

New school definition (Element 9.3)

Revision: New Mexico has established criteria to determine when a reorganized school is deemed a new school. A “new” school will receive the school improvement designation of a sending school that makes up 61 percent of the new school or, in the case of a reorganized school that is populated by students from various sending schools, if no one makes up 61 percent of the reorganized school, but which, collectively, account for 61percent or more of the students enrolled at the reorganized school that school will receive the AYP designation that occurs most frequently of all the sending schools.

Unacceptable amendments

The following amendments are not aligned with the statute and regulations and are therefore not approved.

Growth calculation (Element 3.2)

The Department declines to approve New Mexico’s request to include a growth model in its AYP determinations as a second-level safe harbor for 2007-08. New Mexico previously submitted a growth model proposal to the Department that was reviewed and determined not to meet the Department’s core principles. As such, New Mexico was not approved to participate in the Department’s growth model pilot. Only those states that are approved for the growth model pilot may include a growth model in their AYP determinations.

Statistical addition (Element 9.2)

The Department does not approve New Mexico’s request to apply a t-score rather than a z-score to its confidence interval when calculating AYP. As part of its effort to ensure that AYP results are statistically valid and reliable, as required in section 1111(b)(2)(C)(ii) of the ESEA, New Mexico currently applies a 99 percent confidence interval using a z-score statistic. In any statistical calculation, there is the need to reduce both Type I error (in the case of AYP determinations, identifying the school as meeting the performance target when in fact it did not) and Type II error (identifying a school as not making AYP when in fact the school has met the performance target). Attempts to minimize the risk of one type of error increases the risk of causing the other. The Department believes that the current New Mexico method is sufficient to minimize the occurrence of a Type II error, which is of the most concern to the Department and New Mexico, and that this proposal is unnecessary and increases the risk of a Type I error, thereby causing schools that may need additional assistance not receiving that assistance.

Decision Letters on State Accountability Plans