March 9, 2007 – California Assessment Letter – NCLB Standards and Assessment

March 9, 2007

Honorable Kenneth Noonan
California State Board of Education
1430 N Street, Suite 5111
Sacramento, California 95814

Honorable Jack O’Connell
Superintendent of Public Instruction
California Department of Education
1430 N Street, Suite 5602
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear President Noonan and Superintendent O’Connell:

I am writing to follow up on the letter, dated June 28, 2006, from former Assistant Secretary Henry Johnson inviting California to request reconsideration of the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department) determination of the status of the State’s standards and assessment system as Approval Pending. In a letter of August 2, 2006, you responded to this invitation by submitting additional information addressing each of the Department’s concerns. I apologize for the delay in responding.

In Dr. Johnson’s letter, he enumerated the fundamental components as well as a number of additional technical issues that had not met the standards and assessment requirements of the ESEA after the first peer review in May 2006. Specifically, the Department could not approve California’s standards and assessment system due to outstanding concerns with the alignment of the California Standards Tests (CSTs) and the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) to grade-level academic content and achievement standards and the lack of performance level descriptors that differentiate among three levels of proficiency for mathematics, English language arts, and science.

The peer reviewers and the Department staff evaluated the additional evidence submitted by California and found that it still does not meet all the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(1) and (3) of the ESEA. The alignment studies submitted and evidence containing test specifications and the test development procedures were not sufficient evidence of alignment of all the grade-level content standards and assessments. I understand, however, that California contracted for additional alignment studies that were to be completed in February 2007. Please submit these studies for peer review as soon as they are available. In addition, I understand that California indicated that performance level descriptors in reading, mathematics, and science would be submitted to the Department in March 2007. These must be in place and evidence of their adoption submitted before the Department can approve California’s standards and assessment system.

Because the evidence submitted for the reconsideration did not resolve the outstanding issues, the status of California’s standards and assessment system remains Approval Pending. I look forward to receiving the remaining pieces of evidence as quickly as possible because I know you are anxious to receive full approval of your standards and assessment system and we are committed to helping you get there. We also remain available to provide technical assistance regarding other issues that you identify. 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 contact Catherine Freeman ( or Grace Ross ( of my staff.


Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education

cc: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Bill Padia

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