June 17, 2008 – Request to Amend Accountability Plan – Oklahoma- NCLB Policy Letters to States

June 17, 2008

The Honorable Sandy Garrett
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Oklahoma State Department of Education
Hodge Education Building
2500 North Lincoln Boulevard
Oklahoma City, OK 73105-4599

Dear Superintendent Garrett:

I am writing in response to Oklahoma’s request to amend its state accountability plan 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). Following discussions between the Department and your staff, you made certain changes to Oklahoma’s accountability plan, which are now included in the amended state accountability plan that Oklahoma submitted to the Department on June 11, 2008. I am pleased to fully approve Oklahoma’s amended plan, which we will post on the Department’s website. A summary of the amendments submitted for the 2007-08 school year is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend the Oklahoma accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I of the ESEA.

Please also be aware that approval of Oklahoma’s accountability plan for Title I, including the amendments approved herein, 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 am confident that Oklahoma will continue to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. I wish you well in your school improvement efforts. If you need any additional assistance in implementing the standards, assessment, and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Patrick Rooney (Patrick.Rooney@ed.gov) or Collette Roney (Collette.Roney@ed.gov) of my staff.


Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.


cc: Governor Brad Henry
Jennifer Stegman

Amendments to the Oklahoma Accountability Plan

The following is a summary of the state’s amendment requests. Please refer to the Department’s website (www.ed.govhttps://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplans03/index.html) for the complete Oklahoma Accountability Plan.

Acceptable amendments

The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations:

Including all students in AYP determinations (Element 2.1)

Revision: Oklahoma will include students who are placed in a school site or district outside their enrollment area (such as incarcerated youth and students placed by court order), and thus identified as “other placement,” in the state’s virtual statewide district for adequate yearly progress (AYP) and graduation rate calculations.

Full academic year definition (Element 2.2)

Revision: Oklahoma will amend its full academic year (FAY) definition for grades 3-8 to be identical to its current definition for high school. The uniform FAY definition for grades 3-8 and high school will read: “A student receives a full academic year status for the exams if that student has been continuously enrolled beginning within the first ten days of the school year and has not experienced an enrollment lapse of ten or more consecutive days.”

Including students with disabilities in AYP determinations (Element 5.3)

Revision: Oklahoma will include in AYP determinations for the 2007-08 school year the scores of students with disabilities who are proficient or above (up to a 2.0 percent cap at the district and state levels) on the alternate assessment based on modified academic achievement standards (AA-MAAS).

Please note that approval of this amendment by the Department does not constitute approval of the AA-MAAS or Oklahoma’s modified academic achievement standards. In approving this amendment, the Department expresses no opinion on the sufficiency of either the AA-MAAS or Oklahoma’s modified academic achievement standards. Approval of the AA-MAAS will continue to be handled through the assessment peer review process that is separate and distinct from the amendment approval process.

Revision: Oklahoma clarified the procedures that will be employed if the percentage of students who score proficient or above on the AA-MAAS exceeds 2.0 percent of all students. If the district exceeds the 2.0 percent cap for students scoring proficient or above on the AA-MAAS, the proficient scores will be counted starting from the highest scale score moving down until the number allowed (2.0 percent) is reached. The remaining scores will be calculated as non-proficient.

Minimum group size (Element 5.5)

Revision: In accordance with 34 C.F.R. § 200.7(a)(1)(iii), Oklahoma will use a uniform minimum group size of 30 students for all student groups with the application of a 95 percent confidence interval in determining the AYP status of schools and districts.

Other academic indicator (Element 7.2)

Revision: Oklahoma will exclude pre-kindergarten students from the calculation of the other academic indicator for elementary schools, attendance rate.

Participation rate calculations (Element 10.1)

Revision: Oklahoma clarifies that it will calculate participation rates on its reading/language arts and mathematics assessments separately by subject.

Unacceptable amendments

The following amendments are not approved.

Identifying schools and districts for improvement (Element 3.2)

The Department does not approve Oklahoma’s request to identify schools and districts as in need of improvement only if the same subgroup fails to make AYP for two consecutive years in the same subject. Section 1116(b)(1) of Title I requires a state to identify for school improvement any Title I school that fails, for two consecutive years, to make AYP as defined under section 1111(b)(2). There is flexibility in section 1111(b)(2) to permit a state to determine schools in need of improvement on the basis of not making AYP in the same subject for two consecutive years. This flexibility stems from other provisions in the statute that treat reading and mathematics independently (e.g., separate starting points and annual measurable objectives). These provisions recognize that student achievement in reading and mathematics in a state may be starting at very different points and thus the state would need to establish different trajectories to attain 100 percent proficiency. Concomitantly, it makes sense to permit a state to identify schools in need of improvement based on not making AYP for two years in the same subject. Subgroups, on the other hand, are not treated differently in the statute and thus the statute does not support similar flexibility to identify schools in need of improvement on the basis of “same subgroup” performance for two consecutive years. Moreover, this is inconsistent with the statute’s accountability provisions in section 1111(b)(2)(C), which require that each subgroup meet the state’s annual objectives in each subject each year. The intent of school identification is not to lay blame on a particular group of students, as the “same subgroup/same subject” proposal would do, but to identify the instructional and academic areas that need to be improved. A school that is identified for improvement should look to specific instructional remedies in the subject area, other indicator, or participation rate that resulted in its identification.

Including a growth model in AYP determinations (Element 3.2)

The Department does not approve Oklahoma’s request to include a growth model in its AYP determinations because the state did not submit a growth model to the Department for review. On December 7, 2007, Secretary Spellings invited any interested state to submit a proposal to participate in the Department’s growth model pilot for the 2007-08 school year. If and when the Department invites additional proposals to be submitted for review, Oklahoma is invited to submit a proposal at that time.

Decision Letters on State Accountability Plans