Georgia Assessment Letter

June 30, 2006

The Honorable Kathy Cox
State Superintendent of Schools
Georgia Department of Education
2062 Twin Towers East
Atlanta, Georgia 30334

Dear Superintendent Cox:

Thank you for your participation in the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department) standards and assessment peer review process 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 appreciate the efforts required to prepare for the peer review. As you know, with the implementation of NCLB’s accountability provisions, each school, district, and State is held accountable for making adequate yearly progress (AYP) towards having all students proficient by 2013–14. An assessment system that produces valid and reliable results is fundamental to a State’s accountability system.

I am writing to follow up on the peer reviews of Georgia’s standards and assessments, which occurred May 8-10, 2006 and again on June 15, 2006. The results of this peer review process indicated that additional evidence was necessary for Georgia to meet the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(1) and (3) of the ESEA. At this time, the need for that evidence remains.

As you will recall, the Department laid out new approval categories in the letter to the Chief State School Officers on April 24, 2006. These categories better reflect where States collectively are in the process of meeting the statutory standards and assessment requirements and where each State individually stands. Based on these new categories, the current status of the Georgia standards and assessment system is Approval Pending. This status indicates that Georgia’s standards and assessment system administered in the 2005–06 school year has at least two fundamental components that are missing or that do not meet the statutory and regulatory requirements, in addition to other outstanding issues that can be addressed more immediately. These deficiencies must be resolved in a timely manner so that the standards and assessment system administered next year meets all requirements. The Department believes that Georgia can address the outstanding issues by the next administration of its assessment system, that is, by the end of the 2006–07 school year.

Georgia’s system has at least two fundamental components that warrant the designation of Approval Pending. Specifically, the Department cannot approve the Georgia standards and assessment system due to outstanding concerns with the alignment of the 3-8 and high school assessments to grade level content and academic achievement standards, and the alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (the Georgia Alternate Assessment, or GAA). Please refer to the enclosure for a detailed list of the evidence Georgia must submit to meet the requirements for an approved standards and assessment system.

Accordingly, Georgia is placed under Mandatory Oversight, pursuant to 34 C.F.R. §80.12. Under this status, there will be specific conditions placed on Georgia’s fiscal year 2006 Title I, Part A grant award. Georgia must provide, not later than 25 business days from receipt of this letter, a plan and detailed timeline for how it will meet the remaining requirements to come into full compliance by the end of the 2006–07 school year. Beginning in September 2006, Georgia must also provide bi-monthly reports on its progress implementing the plan. If, at any time, Georgia does not meet the timeline set forth in its plan, the Department will initiate proceedings, pursuant to Section 1111(g)(2) of the ESEA, to withhold 15 percent of Georgia’s fiscal year 2006 Title I, Part A administrative funds, which will then revert to local educational agencies in Georgia.

I know you are anxious to receive full approval of your standards and assessment system and we are committed to helping you get there. Toward that end, let me reiterate my earlier offer of technical assistance. We remain available to assist you however necessary to ensure you administer a fully approved standards and assessment system. We will schedule an additional peer review when you have evidence available to further evaluate your system. If you have any questions or would like to request reconsideration of the conditions, please do not hesitate to contact Catherine Freeman ( or Valeria Ford ( of my staff.


Henry L. Johnson


cc: Governor Sonny Perdue
Jeff Gagne
Melissa Fincher

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


  1. Revised GAA standard setting results, cut scores, and the Performance Level Descriptors (PLDs) for the Alternate Assessment when established, with evidence of adoption.
  2. Grade 11 performance level descriptors in science.


  1. Evaluation of the GAA pilot, including any changes stemming from that pilot and plans for improvement of the operational assessment based on that pilot.
  2. Full documentation for the revised GAA scheduled to be implemented in 2006-07.


  1. Technical manual for the GAA when administered in 2006-07.
  2. Implement and document a systematic process, not just develop policies, to monitor, ensure, and document the appropriate use of accommodations during assessment.
  3. Technical documentation for the 2006-07 operational ELA high school hybrid assessment to the test development process, blueprint/specifications, field test results, overlap from the two sets of standards, etc.
  4. Conditional SEMs around the cut scores for the new assessments.


  1. A description of the process by which the new high school assessments will be brought into closer alignment with the blueprint as well as the standards.
  2. An examination of the deficiencies in the assessment of mathematics process skills at grade 6 and develop a plan to address this issue as the other grades’ assessments are developed.
  3. Evidence from the redesigned GAA that demonstrates alignment to the academic content standards.


  1. Explanation for discrepancies in the data in the reports provided for review in order to account for all students, including migrant, mobile and the Katrina students and updated information when this has been corrected.


  1. More content competency specific interpretative information for parents and students.
  2. Include on the reports a caution about sub-domain reporting with small numbers of items.

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