Decision Letter on Request to Amend Utah Accountability Plan

December 1, 2005

Patti Harrington, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Utah State Office of Education
PO Box 144200
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-4200

Dear Superintendent Harrington:

I am writing in response to Utah’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, those changes that are aligned with NCLB are now included in an amended State accountability plan. A list of the changes is attached to this letter. This letter is sent to identify formally those amendments that were accepted for the 2003-2004 and for the 2004-2005 school year.

As you know, Utah uses a confidence interval for ‘safe harbor’ considerations. In a letter dated June 27, 2003, Eugene Hickok asked that the State provide the Department information on the impact and implications of this approach and the State’s use of multiple years of data for determining ‘safe harbor’ in order to receive final approval of Utah’s accountability plan. We have received sufficient information from Utah and other States to conclude that the use of a 75% confidence interval for ‘safe harbor’ considerations is a viable means of determining AYP. We have likewise found the State’s method of determining ‘safe harbor’ using one to three years of data is acceptable. As a result, we are now removing these conditions from Utah’s 2004 grant award. I appreciate the efforts Utah has made to fulfill these conditions. I am pleased to approve fully Utah’s amended plan, which we will post on the Department’s website.

If, over time, Utah makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, Utah 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 Utah’s accountability plan is not also an approval of Utah’s standards and assessment system. As Utah makes changes in its standards and assessments to meet requirements under NCLB, Utah 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 Utah’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 wish you well in your school improvement efforts. If I can be of any additional assistance to Utah in its efforts to implement other aspects of NCLB, please do not hesitate to call.


Henry L. Johnson


cc: Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr.

Amendments to the Utah Accountability Plan

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

Accountability system includes all students (Elements 2.1, 5.3)

Revision for 2005-06: Utah will change how “out of level” assessment scores for students with disabilities are counted in adequate yearly progress (AYP) calculations. As of the 2005-06 school year, when students take such assessments, they will automatically be counted as “not participating” for AYP purposes. Utah must modify its AYP workbook for the 2005-06 school year to reflect this policy.

Assessing LEP students (Elements 2.1 and 5.4)

Revision: Utah will include the flexibility that the Secretary’s letter of February 20, 2004 provides relative to limited English proficient students for assessment and accountability purposes.

Determining AYP: Confidence Interval (Element 5.2)

Revision: Utah indicates they will continue using a 75% confidence interval when making safe harbor calculations for AYP.

Participation Rate (Element 10.1)

Revision: Utah indicates it will adopt the new flexibility regarding multi-year averaging of participation rate.

Table of Contents Decision Letters on State Accountability Plans