Request to Amend Accountability Plan – West Virginia – NCLB Policy Letters to States

August 25, 2009

The Honorable Steven L. Paine
State Superintendent of Schools
West Virginia Department of Education
Building 6, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E.
Charleston, West Virginia 25305-0330

Dear Superintendent Paine:

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 is traveling the country and listening to representatives of states and school districts, as well as other stakeholders, to 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.

I am writing in response to West 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 two changes to West Virginia’s accountability plan, which are now included in the amended plan that West Virginia submitted to the Department on August 7, 2009. I am pleased to approve West Virginia’s amended plan, which we will post on the Department’s website. A summary of West Virginia’s requested amendments is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend West 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 West Virginia’s accountability plan for Title I, including the amendments 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 West 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.


Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, Ph.D.


cc: Governor Joe Manchin, III
Jan Barth

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Amendments to West Virginia’s Accountability Plan

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

Acceptable amendments

The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations.

Starting points, intermediate goals, and annual measurable objectives (AMOs) (Elements 3.2 a, b, c)

In 2008–09, West Virginia administered new reading/language arts and mathematics assessments. As a result, the state reset its starting points based on the new 2009 assessments to establish new AMOs using the statutory process laid out in section 1111(b)(2)(E) of the ESEA. For 2008–09 AYP determinations, the state’s AMOs will be:

Subject Elementary Middle High School
Mathematics 57 percent 50 percent 48 percent
Reading/language Arts 56 percent 57 percent 45 percent

West Virginia will then reset its starting points using the results of the tests to be administered in 2009–10; will average the 2009 and 2010 starting points to establish AMOs for making AYP determinations in 2009–10; and will create intermediate goals and AMOs that will result in all students meeting or exceeding the state’s proficient level of achievement by the 2013–14 school year.

The Department approves the AMOs for 2008–09 and believes the process proposed for 2009–10 is acceptable, but West Virginia must submit the revised starting points set following the 2009–10 administration of the assessments, intermediate goals, and AMOs to the Department for review and approval before they may be used in making AYP determinations.

Unacceptable amendments

The following amendments are not aligned with the statute and regulations and, therefore, are not approved.

Timeline for universal proficiency (Element 3.2)

West Virginia requested a waiver to extend the timeline by which it will require that all students meet or exceed the state’s proficient achievement level from 2013–14 to 2019–20. While I appreciate and applaud the steps West Virginia has taken to improve its standards and assessment system, I am not granting this waiver. The ESEA currently requires (in section 1111(b)(2)(F)) that the timeline for adequate yearly progress (AYP) ensure that all students are at least proficient in reading and mathematics no later than 2013–14. The

Secretary has stated that he does not intend to change this timeline through administrative action; this should occur through the reauthorization process.

Using a composite index score in AYP determinations (Element 3.2)

West Virginia requested a waiver to base AYP determinations on a composite index that would include a number of measures in addition to the assessment results in reading/language arts and mathematics. West Virginia’s request noted that it planned to study data over the next two years to determine the measures that would be included in the composite index and their relative weights in computing the index. At this time, without specific details regarding that index, I am unable to evaluate the appropriateness of the request.

Decision Letters on State Accountability Plans