Decision Letter on Request to Amend North Dakota State Accountability Plan

June 12, 2008

The Honorable Wayne G. Sanstead
State Superintendent
North Dakota Department of Public Instruction
600 East Boulevard Avenue
Bismark, ND 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 of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Following discussions between the Department and your staff, you made certain changes to North Dakota’s accountability plan, which are now included in an amended State accountability plan that North Dakota submitted to the Department on June 6, 2008. I am pleased to fully approve North Dakota’s amended plan, which we will post on the Department’s website. A summary of North Dakota’s requested amendments is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend the North Dakota 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 North Dakota’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 North Dakota 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 Leighann Lenti ( or Collette Roney ( of my staff.


Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.


cc: Governor John Hoeven
Greg Gallagher
Laurie Matzke

Amendments to North Dakota’s Accountability Plan

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

Acceptable amendments

The following amendments are aligned with statute and regulations.

Reorganized and/or consolidated public school districts (Element 1.1)

Revision: For any public school district that reorganizes or consolidates with another district pursuant to state law, North Dakota will join, compile, and analyze multi-year, historical student achievement data to create a new base upon which future AYP determinations will be made. Any newly established public school district will receive a complete determination, based on all applicable rules and assurances, and the resulting determination will be issued as the official standing determination of the newly established public school district, effective the date of its reorganization and/or consolidation.

Including students with disabilities in AYP determinations (Element 5.3)

Revision: North Dakota will include in AYP determinations for the 2007-08 school year the scores of certain students with disabilities who are proficient or above (up to a 2.0 percent cap at the district and state levels) on an alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards (AA-MAAS).

Please note that approval of this amendment by the Department does not constitute approval of the AA-MAAS or North Dakota’s modified academic achievement standards. In approving this amendment, the Department expresses no opinion on the sufficiency of either the AA-MAAS or North Dakota’s modified academic achievement standards. Approval of the AA-MAAS will continue to be handled through the assessment peer review process that is separate and distinct from the amendment approval process.

Unacceptable amendment

The following amendment may not be included in North Dakota’s accountability plan.

Academic Achievement Growth Model (Element 3.1)

Revision: North Dakota requests to amend Section 3.1 to allow the administration of an academic achievement growth model.

North Dakota recognizes that administration of a growth model is contingent upon its submission of its growth model to the Department for peer review and the subsequent approval of the growth model by the Department. North Dakota, however, was unable to submit its proposal in order to be included in the growth model peer review that occurred in April 2008. Rather, North Dakota specifically requests that the Department conduct a rolling review of its growth model proposal.

As was stated in a letter sent to North Dakota on March 7, 2008, the Department is unable to accommodate North Dakota’s request for a rolling review and North Dakota’s request to participate in the growth model pilot has been denied.

Decision Letters on State Accountability Plans