Request to Amend Accountability Plan – Pennsylvania – AYP determinations Letters to States

Date: November 19, 2012

The Honorable Ronald J. Tomalis
Secretary of Education
Pennsylvania Department of Education
333 Market Street
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17126

Dear Secretary Tomalis:

I am writing in response to Pennsylvania’s requests to amend its State accountability plan under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended. Specifically, on July 26, 2012, you requested changes to Pennsylvania’s accountability plan, including a request to modify how adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations are made for charter schools in Pennsylvania. I cannot approve this amendment, however, because it is not aligned with the statute and regulations. A summary of Pennsylvania’s request and this decision is enclosed with this letter. I note that Pennsylvania has submitted certain additional requests to amend its State accountability plan that the Department is still reviewing. Any further requests to amend Pennsylvania’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.

I am confident that Pennsylvania 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 of my staff. Thank you for your continued work to enhance the education of all Pennsylvania students.



Deborah S. Delisle
Assistant Secretary


cc: John Weiss

Amendments to Pennsylvania’s Accountability Plan

The following is a summary of Pennsylvania’s amendment requests. Please refer to the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department’s) website for Pennsylvania’s complete accountability plan.

Unapproved amendment

The following amendment is not aligned with the statute and regulations.

  • State Accountability System Includes Every Public School and Local Educational Agency (LEAs) (Element 1.1)
  • The Department cannot approve Pennsylvania’s request to consider charter schools (both brick-and-mortar and cyber charter schools) only as LEAs for adequate yearly progress (AYP) purposes such that AYP determinations would be made for each charter school as an LEA but not as a school. Section 1111(b)(2)(A) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA), requires that each State have a single, statewide State accountability system that ensures that all LEAs and public schools make AYP. A State’s accountability system must be the same accountability system that it uses for all public schools or all LEAs in the State. (ESEA § 1111(b)(2)(A)(ii)). Additionally, under 34 C.F.R. § 200.13(b)(4), (6), a State must define AYP in a manner that (1) measures the progress of all public schools, LEAs and the State, and (2) is the same for all public schools and LEAs in the State. As such, Pennsylvania is obligated to make AYP decisions for all schools and hold all schools to the same standards. We note that, for single-school charter LEAs, it is appropriate for Pennsylvania to make AYP determinations at both the LEA and school level, as it currently does for its traditional single-school LEAs.

    Because Pennsylvania has already made AYP determinations based on 2011-12 assessment data using the methodology in the proposed amendment, Pennsylvania must: (1) make school-level AYP determinations for all charter schools in the State based on 2011-12 assessment data no later than the end of the first semester of the 2012-13 school year, and (2) require any charter school that is identified for school improvement, corrective action or restructuring as a result of the school-level AYP determinations to implement the appropriate school improvement actions (e.g., supplemental educational services) no later than the beginning of the second semester of the 2012-13 school year.