Request to Amend Accountability Plan – Puerto Rico – NCLB Policy Letters to States

September 5, 2006

The Honorable Rafael Aragunde Torres
Secretary of Education
Puerto Rico Department of Education
Post Office Box 190759
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00919-0759

Dear Secretary Aragunde:

I am writing in response to Puerto Rico’s request to amend its State accountability plan under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Following our discussions with your staff, the changes that are aligned with NCLB are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Puerto Rico submitted to the Department on September 5, 2006. I am pleased to fully approve Puerto Rico’s plan, which will be posted on the Department’s website. A summary of the approved amendments is enclosed with this letter.

As you know, any further requests to amend the Puerto Rico accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I. Please note that approval of Puerto Rico’s accountability plan does not constitute approval of the State’s standards and assessment system.

Please also be aware that approval of Puerto Rico’s accountability plan for Title I, including the amendments approved above, 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.

NCLB has provided a vehicle for States to raise the achievement of all students and to close the achievement gap. We are seeing the results of our combined endeavor; achievement is rising throughout the nation. I appreciate Puerto Rico’s efforts to raise the achievement of all students and hold all schools accountable. If you need any additional assistance to implement the standards, assessment, and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Patrick Rooney ( or Catherine Freeman ( of my staff.


Henry L. Johnson


cc: Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá
Waldo Torres Váquez
Mariemma López Rosario
Angel Canales Encarnación

Amendments to the Puerto Rico Accountability pPan

The following is a summary of the State’s approved amendments. Please refer to the Department’s website (www.ed.gov for the complete Puerto Rico accountability plan.

Adding science assessment (Element 1.3)

Revision: Puerto Rico will add a science test to its assessment system. The science test was piloted in April 2006 and will be administered on a regular basis once its reliability and validity have been evaluated. Please note that this does not constitute approval of the science assessment by the Department. This assessment will have to be submitted for peer review.

Annual report card (Element 1.5)

Revision: Puerto Rico will begin including its report card online in 2006. The Puerto Rico report card will be available as a link on the Puerto Rico Department of Education website. Please note that approval of this amendment is not sufficient to ensure approval by the Department of the reporting requirements in the standards and assessment peer review.

Determining adequate yearly progress (AYP) for elementary and middle schools (Element 3.2)

Revision: Puerto Rico will determine AYP at elementary and middle schools by weighting the percentage proficient by the total number of students enrolled in each grade. Puerto Rico will continue to base enrollment figures on the full academic year (FAY) definition. Puerto Rico will use the following formula to determine AYP:

  • Percent proficient = (n3P3+n4P4+…+niPi) + (n3+n4+…+ni) where:

    • n3, n4,…ni are the enrollment in 3rd, 4th, and i
    • P3, P4,…Pi are the non-weighted percentage proficient at each grade (3rd, 4th, and i)

Statistical adjustment to AYP determinations (Element 3.2)

Revision: Puerto Rico clarifies that it uses a 95 percent confidence interval when calculating AYP.

Assessments in grades 3-8 and high school (Elements 3.2 and 9.3)

Revision: Puerto Rico clarifies that it will use all of the assessment in grades 3-8 and high school in determining AYP in 2005-06. The uniform average procedure, for only those assessments for which there are 2 and 3 years of data, will be applied in those schools where AYP is not met in the current year alone.

Starting points, annual measurable objectives, and intermediate goals for calculating AYP (Element 3.2a, 3.2b, and 3.2c)

Revision: Puerto Rico revised the starting points, annual measurable objectives (AMOs), and intermediate goals for the Spanish reading/language arts and mathematics assessments. This change is due to the fact that the original starting points were determined based upon an assessment that was not aligned to Puerto Rico’s academic content standards. With the implementation of a new assessment, Puerto Rico has revised its starting points based upon the guidance provided in the Department’s regulations.

Including students with disabilities in AYP determinations (Element 5.3)

Revision: Puerto Rico will offer a new alternate assessment to students with disabilities, Las Pruebas Puertorriqueñas de Evaluación Alterna (PPEA), for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Puerto Rico will include students who score proficient or advanced on the PPEA when calculating AYP unless the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced exceeds 1.0 percent of enrollment in tested grades in a local educational agency (LEA). If the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced exceeds 1.0 percent, students will be selected at random and counted as below proficient for AYP calculations.

Minimum group size for reporting, participation, and AYP determinations (Elements 5.5 and 5.6)

Revision: Puerto Rico will use a minimum group size of 30 for calculating participation rates, and determining AYP for all student groups. The minimum group size for reporting results will remain 20 students.

Participation rate (Element 10.1)

Revision: Puerto Rico will use a 3-year weighted average to calculate the participation rate if a school does not have a 95 percent participation rate in the current year. In addition, students who are unable to take the assessment for a verifiable medical emergency will be omitted from the participation rate calculation. Puerto Rico further clarifies that “verifiable medical emergency” shall require a medical certificate, issued by a certified doctor, for all untested student who claim to have a medical emergency and who are unable to take the assessment. Schools will be required to keep the corresponding medical documentation to verify that the omitted students were unable to take the assessment. Students with an invalid assessment score are included as non-participants when calculating the participation rate.

Decision Letters on State Accountability Plans