Nevada Assessment Letter

July 13, 2007

The Honorable Keith W. Rheault
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Nevada Department of Education
700 East 5th Street
Carson City, Nevada 89701-5096

Dear Superintendent Rheault:

I am writing regarding our review of Nevada’s standards and assessment system under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (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 Nevada’s efforts to monitor student progress toward challenging standards.

External peer reviewers and Department staff evaluated Nevada’s third peer review submission and found, based on the evidence received, that it does not meet all the statutory and regulatory requirements of section 1111(b)(1) and (3) of the ESEA. I know that my staff has discussed the results of this review with your staff. I want to take this opportunity to enumerate the evidence that Nevada must provide in order to have a fully compliant system. Specifically, we have concerns with the alignment of the High School Proficiency Examination (HSPE) as well as concerns with the academic achievement standards and alignment of the Nevada Alternate Scales of Academic Achievement (NASAA) assessment. The complete list of evidence needed to address these concerns is enclosed with this letter.

I know that Nevada submitted additional evidence in June 2007. Therefore, we are not assigning an approval status to Nevada’s system at this time. Please note that all evidence regarding the HSPE must be submitted no later than September 1, 2007. We will conduct a peer review of that evidence and schedule an additional peer review, if necessary. Because Nevada’s system is not fully approved, a condition was placed on your fiscal year 2007 Title I, Part A grant award.

After the peer review is completed, if Nevada’s evidence has not resolved the remaining issues, we will take appropriate enforcement actions as outlined in the Department’s May 10, 2007 fact sheet, including the possibility of a Compliance Agreement under Section 457 of the General Education Provisions Act. For your convenience, I am enclosing a copy of that fact sheet, which is also available on the Department’s website (http://www.ed.gov

I hope you will find the reviewers’ comments and suggestions helpful. We look forward to working with Nevada to support a high-quality standards and assessment system. If you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to call Sue Rigney (202-260-0931) or Martha Snyder (202-260-0941) of my staff.


Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.


cc: Governor Jim Gibbons
Paula LaMarca



  1. A clear and complete description of the process and decisions made in the development of the Nevada Alternate Scales of Academic Achievement (NASAA) standards for reading and mathematics, including the qualifications of participants in the standards-setting activity.
  2. Documentation confirming Board approval of the revised cut scores that were applied to the 2007 results of the NASAA.


  1. Data that supports the current policy that accommodations yield valid scores and modifications do not.


  1. A detailed explanation of the actions that will be taken to ensure improved alignment between assessments and revised content standards as the basis for test validity.
  2. Evidence of alignment of the High School Proficiency Examination (HSPE) with Nevada’s academic content standards.
  3. A plan for using alignment study results to guide future development activities to improve alignment of the tests to standards.
  4. Documentation of alignment between the NASAA tasks administered by teachers and grade-level content standards.

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