May 10, 2009 – Virginia Assessment Letter

May 10, 2009

The Honorable Patricia I. Wright
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Virginia Department of Education
P.O. Box 2120
Richmond, Virginia 23218

Dear Superintendent Wright:

On behalf of Secretary Duncan, I want to thank you for your hard work in implementing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). As you may know, the Secretary will be traveling the country and listening to states, districts, and other stakeholders talk about the ways in which the ESEA can be improved. These conversations will inform the next reauthorization of the statute. In the meantime, we will push towards our reform goals under the authority of, and in accordance with, the existing statute and regulations.

Specifically, I am writing in response to Virginia’s request to amend its state accountability plan under Title I of the ESEA. Following discussions between the Department and your staff, you made a change to Virginia’s accountability plan, which is now included in the amended state accountability plan that Virginia submitted to the Department on April 10, 2009. I am pleased to approve Virginia’s amended plan, which we will post on the Department’s website. A summary of Virginia’s requested amendment is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend Virginia’s 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 Virginia’s accountability plan for Title I, including the amendment 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 Virginia will continue to advance its efforts to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. If you need any additional assistance to implement the standards, assessment, and accountability provisions of the ESEA, please do not hesitate to contact ( or ( of my staff.


Joseph C. Conaty

cc: Governor Tim Kaine
Linda M. Wallinger, Ph.D.

Amendment to Virginia’s Accountability Plan

The following is a summary of Virginia’s amendment request. Please refer to the Department’s website (http://www.ed.gov for Virginia’s complete accountability plan.

Acceptable amendment
The following amendment is aligned with the statute and regulations:

Assessing Students with Disabilities (Element 5.3)

Revision: Virginia will use the “proxy method” (option 1 in the Department’s guidance dated December 2005) to take advantage of the two percent transition flexibility for the inclusion of students with disabilities in the calculation of adequate yearly progress (AYP) for the 2009-10 school year, based on assessments administered during the 2008-09 school year. This option is offered by the Department pursuant to its authority under 34 C.F.R. § 200.20(g). See letter from Zollie Stevenson, Director of SASA, to Chief State School Officers, December 5, 2008 (available at: If a school or district misses AYP solely on the basis of the students with disabilities subgroup, a proxy that is equivalent to 2.0 percent of all students assessed will be added to the actual percentage of students with disabilities in the school or district that were proficient or above. Virginia will use this adjusted percent proficient to re-examine whether the school or district made AYP for the 2008–09 school year. The actual percentage proficient will be reported to parents and the public.