Florida Assessment Letter

April 19, 2006

Dr. John Winn
Commissioner of Education
Florida Department of Education
325 West Gaines Street, Suite 1514
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0100

Dear Commissioner Winn:

Thank you for submitting Florida’s assessment materials for review under the standards and assessment requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). We appreciate the efforts required to prepare for the peer review and hope that the process provides useful feedback that will support Florida’s efforts to monitor student progress toward challenging standards.

External peer reviewers and U.S. Department of Education (ED) staff evaluated Florida’s submission and found, based on the evidence received, that it did not meet all the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA. I know that my staff has discussed the results of this review with your staff. However, I want to take this opportunity to enumerate the evidence that Florida must provide in order to have a fully compliant standards and assessment system under NCLB. That evidence is listed on the last pages of this letter.

I urge you to submit any available evidence demonstrating how Florida’s system meets the standards and assessment requirements as soon as possible. I also request that, as soon as possible, you provide us a plan with a detailed timeline for how Florida will meet any remaining requirements for which evidence is not currently available. After reviewing those materials, I will then determine the appropriate approval status for Florida’s standards and assessment system.

Enclosed with this letter are detailed comments from the peer review team that evaluated Florida’s assessment materials. The peer reviewers, experts in the areas of standards and assessment, review and discuss a State’s submission of evidence and prepare a consensus report. I hope you will find the reviewers’ comments and suggestions helpful, and remind you of our offer to provide you further technical assistance at your request.

We look forward to working with Florida to support a high-quality assessment system. If you would like to discuss this further or would like to request technical assistance, please do not hesitate to call Carlos Martinez (202-260-2493) or Catherine Freeman (202-401-3058) of my staff.


Henry L. Johnson


cc: Governor Jeb Bush

Summary of Additional Evidence that Florida Must Submit to Meet ESEA Requirements for the Florida Assessment System


  • Florida meets this requirement; no additional evidence is needed. Florida has provided evidence that the State has developed and adopted challenging academic content standards in reading/language arts, mathematics and science in the required grades.


  • Performance descriptors that include descriptions of competencies associated with each level and content area (reading, mathematics and science) for both the FCAT and the FAAR.
  • Evidence of adoption/approval of the alternate achievement standards and science achievement standards by the State Board of Education.
  • Evidence of completion of development activities of the improved alternate assessment, and information on its technical quality, with State Board of Education approval of performance descriptors and alternate achievement standards.
  • Evidence of standardized procedures for scoring the alternate assessment and interpretation of results according to proficiency levels.


  • Florida meets this requirement; no additional evidence is needed. Florida administers assessments annually to students in at least reading/language arts and mathematics in grades 3 through 8 and once in grades 10-12.


  • Evidence of a generally accepted standard setting procedure applied to the alternate assessments.
  • Evidence of inter-rater and test-retest reliability of FAAR scores.
  • Evidence that scores yielded on the FAAR are meaningful with regard to distinct performance levels.
  • Documentation of guidance provided to teachers on how to use scoring rubrics to interpret and translate performances and scores on alternate assessments to the reporting form.


  • Evidence of how Florida used the academic content standards in the development of alternate academic achievement standards for mathematics, reading and science.
  • A plan that addresses the gaps in alignment for the FCAT, particularly how test assembly specifications can resolve the alignment issues.


  • Florida meets this requirement no additional evidence is needed. Florida provided evidence that the assessment systems provide for the participation of all students in the grades assessed, including students with disabilities and students with limited English proficiency.


  • Florida meets this requirement no additional evidence is needed. Florida provided evidence of student, school, district, and State reports that contains detailed information on student performance in different strands and concepts.

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