Massachusetts Assessment Letter

June 12, 2006

The Honorable David P. Driscoll
Commissioner of Education
Massachusetts Department of Education
350 Main Street
Malden, Massachusetts 02148-5023

Dear Commissioner Driscoll:

Thank you for submitting Massachusetts’s assessment materials for review under the standards and assessment requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). We appreciate the efforts required to prepare for the peer review and hope that the process provides useful feedback that will support Massachusetts’s efforts to monitor student progress toward challenging standards.

External peer reviewers and U.S. Department of Education (ED) staff evaluated Massachusetts’s submission. Based on the recommendations of the peer reviewers and the evidence you have provided to date, the status of Massachusetts’s standards and assessment system is Approval Expected. This status indicates that a State has administered an assessment system in grades 3-8 and high school in 2005-06 that the evidence to date suggests is fully compliant with the statutory and regulatory requirements. There are certain elements, however, that cannot be completed by July 1, 2006, due to the nature of assessment development, such as setting academic achievement standards.

Massachusetts must provide the Department with the complete evidence needed to satisfy the few remaining requirements, as indicated in the enclosure to this letter, before administering its assessments in the 2006-07 school year. Massachusetts should provide, as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days from receipt of this letter, a plan, including a detailed timeline, for how Massachusetts will meet these remaining requirements. We will schedule a subsequent peer review, if necessary, after you have submitted your additional evidence. Please note that, because there are elements of Massachusetts’s system that cannot be completed by July 1, 2006, the Department will place a condition on Massachusetts’s fiscal year 2006 Title I, Part A grant award until Massachusetts has submitted the required evidence and receives approval of its standards and assessment system.

The Department remains committed to working with Massachusetts to meet the requirements of NCLB and to raising the performance of all children. If you have any additional questions, would like to discuss this further, or want to request technical assistance, please do not hesitate to call Patrick Rooney (202-205-8831) or Sue Rigney (202-260-0931) of my staff.


Henry L. Johnson


cc: Governor Mitt Romney
Barbara Solomon

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


  1. Detailed description of the standard-setting procedures employed for the new assessments in reading in grades 5, 6, and 8 and in mathematics in grades 3, 5, and 7 along with evidence that persons familiar with the achievement of students with disabilities and English language learners are included.


  1. 1. Technical documentation for the new assessments introduced in spring 2006, including confirmation of alignment of the new assessments with State content standards.
  2. Standard-setting procedures for the new spring 2006 assessments.
  3. Evidence of technical quality for the alternate assessment.

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