Request to Amend Accountability Plan – Wisconsin – NCLB Policy Letters to States

April 11, 2006

Honorable Elizabeth Burmaster
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
P. O. Box 7841
125 South Webster Street
Madison, WI 53707

Dear Superintendent Burmaster:

I am writing in response to Wisconsin’s request to amend its State accountability plan under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (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 Wisconsin submitted to the Department on March 7, 2006. I am pleased to approve Wisconsin’s amendments. A summary of the approved amendments is attached to this letter. I am pleased to fully approve Wisconsin’s amended plan, which we will post on the Department’s website.

If, over time, Wisconsin makes changes to the accountability plan that has been approved, Wisconsin must submit information about those changes to the Department for review and approval, as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I. Approval of Wisconsin’s accountability plan is not an approval of Wisconsin’s standards and assessment system. External peer reviewers and U.S. Department of Education staff are evaluating the evidence Wisconsin submitted to demonstrate compliance with the standards and assessment requirements under NCLB. After reviewing those materials, the Department will then determine the appropriate approval status for Wisconsin’s standards and assessment system.

Please also be aware that approval of Wisconsin’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.

I am confident that Wisconsin will continue to advance its efforts to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. I wish you well in your school improvement efforts. If you need any additional assistance in your efforts to implement the standards, assessments and accountability provisions of NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Abigail Potts ( or Valeria Ford ( of my staff.


Henry L. Johnson


cc: Governor Jim Doyle

Amendments to the Wisconsin Accountability Plan

The statement is a summary of the amendments. For complete details, please refer to the Wisconsin Accountability plan on the Department’s website: www.ed.gov

Method of AYP determination (Elements 3.2, 9.1)

Revision: Wisconsin will calculate AYP using a performance index, status safe harbor and index safe harbor. Wisconsin will give each advanced and proficient student a weight of 1.0, while basic students receive 0.5. Students scoring below basic receive no weight. The index score is then compared to the annual measurable objective. If the school, or subgroup within the school, does not make AYP, the State will determine if the group reduced the percentage of students who are not proficient by 10 percent from the previous year. If the school or subgroup still has not made AYP, Wisconsin will calculate safe harbor based on the performance index.

Revision: Wisconsin will continue to apply a confidence interval to AYP determinations, but will remove the standard error of measurement.

LEA Identification for Improvement (Element 3.1)

Revision: Wisconsin clarified that local educational agencies (LEAs) will be identified for improvement when they do not meet the other indicator objective (in addition to reading and mathematics) in all grade spans for two consecutive years-elementary (grades 3-5), middle (grades 6-8), and high school (grade 10). The other indicator at elementary and middle schools is attendance, and at high school is graduation rate.

Uniform Averaging Procedure (Element 3.2)

Revision: Wisconsin clarified that they will compare the two-year average proficiency index with the current year’s proficiency index and use the higher proficiency index for AYP for those schools with all-student cell size of 40 or greater. In 2005-06 only, the two-year average will be calculated based on grades that were tested in both the current and prior years (i.e., 4, 8, and 10) and the current year’s proficiency index will include achievement data from grades 3-8 and high school.

Invalid Assessment Results (Elements 10.1, 10.2)

Revision: Wisconsin clarified that they will consider students without a valid test score as not participating for AYP purposes. Wisconsin will not count students without a valid test score in a school and LEA proficiency calculation.

Decision Letters on State Accountability Plans