Iowa Assessment Letter

June 20, 2006

The Honorable Michael P. Flanagan
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Michigan Department of Education
608 West Allegan Street, 4th Floor
Lansing, Michigan 48933

Dear Superintendent Flanagan:

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 letter that was sent to you on March 23, 2006. In that letter, we presented the results of the peer review of the Michigan standards and assessment system and detailed the additional evidence necessary for Michigan to meet the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(1) and (3) of the ESEA. At this time, additional evidence provided by Michigan was not sufficient to resolve the outstanding issues presented in the March 23 letter.

As you may 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 Michigan system is Approval Pending. This status indicates that Michigan’s standards and assessment system administered in 2005-06 has one fundamental component that does 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 Michigan can address the outstanding issues by the next administration of its assessment system, that is, by the end of the 2006-07 school year.

Michigan’s system has one fundamental component that warrants the designation of Approval Pending. Specifically, we cannot approve two of Michigan’s alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Michigan developed multiple assessments based on alternate achievement standards but, at present, only the MI-Access Functional Independence assessment meets the requirements for this type of assessment. The MI-Access Participation and the Supported Independence assessments are not linked to grade-level content standards and do not yield separate valid scores in reading and mathematics. Michigan must either change these alternate assessments to meet the statutory and regulatory requirements or cease using them to determine AYP.

Because Michigan included the two non-approved alternate assessments in its AYP determinations for the 2005-06 school year, Michigan did not administer an approved assessment system in 2005-06 as required under NCLB, thereby resulting in its Approval Pending status. As provided in the letter to Michigan on March 23, please refer to the enclosure for a detailed list of evidence Michigan must submit to meet the requirements for an approved standards and assessment system.

Accordingly, Michigan is placed under Mandatory Oversight, as authorized under 34 C.F.R. §80.12. Under this status, there will be specific conditions placed on Michigan’s fiscal year 2006 Title I, Part A grant award. In addition, Michigan 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. Please confirm in that plan my understanding, if accurate, that Michigan does not intend to include the two non-approved alternate assessments in its 2006-07 AYP determinations. Beginning in September 2006, Michigan must also provide bi-monthly reports on its progress implementing the plan. If, at any time, Michigan 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 10 percent of Michigan’s fiscal year 2006 Title I, Part A administrative funds, which will then revert to local educational agencies in Michigan.

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 discuss this further, please do not hesitate to call Abigail Potts ( or Sue Rigney ( of my staff.


Henry L. Johnson


cc: Governor Jennifer Granholm
Jeremey Hughes

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


  1. Documentation that test and item scores are related to internal or external variables as intended.
  2. Data showing internal consistency, empirical item response theory reliability, conditional standard errors of measurement, and estimates of classification accuracy.
  3. Evidence of inter-rater reliability for hand scored responses.
  4. Evaluation of accommodations as indicated in the peer notes.
  5. Comparability of student classifications on the regular Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) assessment and translated forms.


  1. Confirmation that Michigan does not intend to use the MI-Access Participation or the Supported Independence alternate assessments in determining AYP for 2006-07.

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