Florida Assessment Letter dated June 27, 2007
June 27, 2007
Honorable Jeanine Blomberg
Florida Department of Education
325 West Gaines Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
Dear Commissioner Blomberg:
I am pleased to approve Florida’s assessment system 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). I congratulate you on meeting this important NCLB requirement.
My decision is based on input from peer reviewers external to the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) and Department staff who reviewed and carefully considered the evidence submitted by Florida. I have concluded that the evidence demonstrates that Florida’s standards and assessment system satisfies the NCLB requirements. Specifically, Florida’s system includes academic content standards in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science; student achievement standards in reading/language arts and mathematics; alternate achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in reading/language arts and mathematics; grade-level assessments in each of grades 3-8 and high school in reading/language arts and mathematics; and alternate assessments in each of grades 3-8 and high school in reading/language arts and mathematics for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities on the Independent and Supported levels. As such, the status of Florida’s system is Full Approval with Recommendations. This status means that Florida’s standards and assessment system meets all statutory and regulatory requirements; however, some elements of the system could be improved. The Florida Alternate Assessment Report (FAAR) on the Independent and Supported levels meet the essential requirements of NCLB, but we recommend Florida strengthen the alignment of its alternate assessment to the related academic content standards.
Please be aware that approval of Florida’s assessment system under NCLB is not a determination that the system 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.
Finally, please remember that, if Florida makes significant changes in its assessment system, the State must submit information about those changes to the Department for review and approval. For its reading and mathematics assessment system components, Florida has agreed to count students who took the FAAR on the Participatory leveling in the 2006-07 school year, in reading and mathematics, as non-participants in the assessment process for NCLB accountability due to the fact that this level is not linked to grade-level content. I understand Florida is planning to implement a new alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards to replace the FAAR, which will no longer be used after the 2006-07 school year. Please note that this approval does not include this new assessment. Florida will need to submit additional evidence to the Department for review and approval when Florida implements this assessment in the 2007-08 school year.
We have found it a pleasure working with your staff on this review. Please accept my congratulations for your State’s approved standards and assessment system under NCLB. I wish you well in your continued efforts to improve student achievement in Florida.
Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
cc: Governor Charlie Crist
Jay Pfeiffer, Director, Accountability Research & Measurement