Decision Letter on Request to Amend North Dakota State Accountability Plan

August 10, 2005

The Honorable Wayne G. Sanstead
Superintendent of Public Instruction
North Dakota Department of Public Instruction
State Capitol Building, 11th Floor
600 Boulevard Avenue, East
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505-0440

Dear Superintendent Sanstead:

I am writing in response to North Dakota’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). The changes you requested are aligned with NCLB and are now included in an amended State accountability plan that North Dakota submitted to the Department on June 1, 2005. The changes are listed in an attachment to this letter. I am pleased to fully approve North Dakota’s amended plan, which we will post on the Department’s website.

If, over time, North Dakota makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, North Dakota must submit information about those changes to the Department for review and approval, as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I. Approval of North Dakota’s accountability plan is not also an approval of North Dakota’s standards and assessment system. As North Dakota makes changes in its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, North Dakota must submit information about those changes to the Department for peer review through the standards and assessment process.

Please also be aware that approval of North Dakota’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 North Dakota will continue to advance its efforts to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. I wish you well in your school improvement efforts. If I can be of any additional assistance to North Dakota in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.


Henry L. Johnson

cc: Governor John Hoeven


Amendments to the North Dakota Accountability Plan

This attachment is a summary of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the North Dakota accountability plan on the Department’s website: www.ed.gov

Use of the 2% flexibility for students with disabilities (Element 5.3)

Revision: North Dakota will use the “proxy method” (Option 1 in ED’s guidance dated May 7, 2005) to take advantage of the Secretary’s flexibility regarding calculating AYP for students with disabilities. North Dakota will calculate a proxy to determine the percentage of special education students that is equivalent to 2.0 percent of all students assessed. For this year only, this proxy will then be added to the percent 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, North Dakota will use this adjusted percent proficient to reexamine if the school or district made AYP for the 2004-05 school year.

Lagging the additional indicators (Elements 7.1 and 7.2)

Revision: North Dakota will apply a one-year lag to the additional indicators for the 2003-04 and 2004-05 school years for attendance, and the 2004-05 and 2005-06 school years for graduation rate. No schools or districts will be held in double jeopardy. If they miss the attendance target in 2003-04, they will not be considered as missing AYP in 2004-05 because doing so would put them in school improvement based on one year’s data.

Safe Harbor for additional indicator (Element 7.3)

Revision: North Dakota will adopt a safe harbor provision for determining whether a school or district meets the AYP requirements for the additional indicators, when it misses the additional indicator target(s). Safe harbor for graduation rate is defined as a 10 percent reduction in non-graduates. For attendance rate, safe harbor is a 10 percent reduction in absences.

Table of Contents Decision Letters on State Accountability Plans