Request to Amend Accountability Plans – Wyoming June 27, 2007 – NCLB Policy Letters to States

June 27, 2007

The Honorable Jim McBride
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Wyoming Department of Education
2300 Capitol Ave, 2nd Floor
Hathaway Building
Cheyenne, Wyoming 82002-0050

Dear Superintendent McBride:

I am writing in response to Wyoming’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 approved changes are now included in an amended State accountability plan that Wyoming submitted to the Department on June 15, which we will post on the Department’s website. A summary of the amendments submitted for the 2006-07 school year is enclosed with this letter. As you know, any further requests to amend the Wyoming accountability plan must be submitted to the Department for review and approval as required by section 1111(f)(2) of Title I.

Please also be aware that approval of Wyoming’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 Wyoming 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 NCLB, please do not hesitate to contact Patrick Rooney ( or Sue Rigney ( of my staff.


Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.


cc: Governor Dave Freudenthal
Laurel Ballard

Amendments to the Wyoming Accountability Plan

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

Acceptable amendments

The following amendments are aligned with the statute and regulations.

School- and district-wide AYP determinations (Element 3.2)

Revision: Beginning in 2006 with the first PAWS assessment administration, grades 3-8 and 11 within a school are combined for adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations in Wyoming using a proficiency index. The State has different annual measurable objectives (AMOs) for elementary, middle, and high school grades across Wyoming’s wide variety of school grade configurations. Within AYP calculations, the elementary school AMO applies to grades 3 through 6 (the majority of Wyoming 6th-grade students attend classes in the K-6 elementary school environment), the middle school AMO applies to students in grades 7 and 8, and the high school AMO applies to students in 11th grade. An example of the proficiency index for a hypothetical school serving grades 6 and 7 is illustrated below:

  • Grade 6 annual measurable objective for 2006 = 42.00% proficient Actual percent of Grade 6 Asian students (N=20) proficient = 40% Difference = -2%

  • Grade 7 annual measurable objective for 2006 = 45.42% proficient Actual percent of Grade 7 Asian students (N=30) proficient = 50% Difference = +4.58%

  • Weighting constants (Grade N/Total N): Grade 4 = 20/50 = 0.4; Grade 5 = (30/50) = 0.6
  • Proficiency Index = 0.4*(-2%) + 0.6*(4.58) = 1.95%

A Proficiency Index of zero or higher indicates that the AMO has been met by the subgroup in the school. In this example, the Asian subgroup in this school meets the AMO with a proficiency index of 1.95 percent. When the Proficiency Index is less than zero, a 95 percent confidence interval is applied to determine if the gap is statistically significant. If the gap (percentage below zero) is not calculated to be significant, the subgroup will be considered to have made AYP.

Determining AYP when combining reading and writing scores (Element 3.2a)

Revision: Wyoming will revise the way the reading and writing scores are combined to create the language arts score. Because the raw scores for reading and writing have different standard deviations, simply averaging the two scores is not as accurate as standardizing the scores first. This standardization was completed utilizing an equi-percentile procedure.

Please note that approval of this amendment request is neither approval of the reading/language arts assessment used to comply with NCLB requirements, which will need to be peer reviewed through the standards and assessment peer review, nor the starting points, annual measurable objectives, or intermediate goals, which will need to be formally submitted to the Department for review and approval before they can be used for AYP determinations.

Inclusion of retained students (Elements 4.1 and 10.1)

Revision: Wyoming clarified that retained students in grades 3-8 must take the State assessment annually. Scores from these assessments are not banked; retained students would need to re-take the assessment in order to be counted as a participant. High school juniors who are repeating this grade do not have to re-take the assessment if they already have “banked” scores within a content area. If they do not have a banked score in a content area, then the retained high school juniors must take the assessment in that content area in order to be counted as a participant.

Inclusion of limited English proficient (LEP) students (Element 5.4)

Revision: Wyoming will use “proficient” on the Wyoming English Language Learners Assessment as the measure to determine English proficiency. Please note that approval of this amendment does not constitute approval of the Wyoming English Language Learners Assessment.

Graduation rate (Element 7.1)

Revision: Wyoming will exclude foreign exchange students in the graduation rate calculations. These students usually stay in Wyoming schools for only a year and then return to their home county to complete their education; thus, they are not expected to graduate from a Wyoming school.

Use of the “other academic indicator” when calculating AYP (Element 7.2)

Revision: Wyoming clarifies that a school can only make Safe Harbor if it has a decrease in the percentage of students scoring in the lowest performance category in reading, for the subgroup trying to meet Safe Harbor, or if the percentage of students reading below basic in the subgroup trying to meet Safe Harbor is below 15 percent for the current and previous years, which is the elementary or middle school other academic indicator.

Definition of a new school (Elements 9.2 and 9.3)

Revision: Wyoming clarifies that any school seeking to be reclassified as a “new school” must petition the Wyoming Department of Education to receive authorization to be classified as a new school. A school will be considered a “new” school for accountability purposes if it meets the following threshold criteria:

  1. A change of at least 50 percent of the student population from the previous year; or
  2. A change in grade configuration that involves at least 2 grade levels, either by elimination or addition; or
  3. A change in grade configuration that involves at least 50 percent of the former grade levels, by either elimination or addition.

Further, Wyoming clarifies that the AYP history of the school will be considered and there must be no evidence that the change was made to avoid accountability. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction will make the final determination of whether a school will be classified as new. All new schools will receive a new school identification number.

AYP review process (Element 9.2)

Revision: Wyoming clarifies that, if a school or district believes it has been incorrectly identified as failing to make AYP, it may request that the Wyoming Department of Education review the AYP decision within fifteen (15) days of the preliminary AYP decision, as described in Element 1.4. The request to review the AYP decision may be based on statistical error or other substantive reasons as contained in Section 1116(b)(2) of NCLB.

Participation rate calculation (Element 10.1)

Revision: Wyoming will average the participation rate data for two or three years for schools not meeting the participation rate for the current year.

Inclusion of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities (Element 10.1)

Revision: Wyoming will allow LEAs to petition the State to exempt from participation rate calculations students taking the alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards (PAWS-ALT) that move into an LEA from out of State after the testing window begins. The petitions will be reviewed by the State on a case-by-case basis. This exemption will only be granted to an LEA if the amount of time left in the testing window is too small to obtain a valid score for the student. Districts must show sufficient evidence to prove to the Wyoming Department of Education that, given the amount of time left in the testing window, the individual learning characteristics, and item response time, there is not enough time for a valid test administration. Wyoming expects that the test administration be completed in as many content areas as possible (reading, writing, mathematics, or science). Consideration for eligibility for exemption is not based on disability category, amount of time for which the student receives service, the location of the delivery of service, or the level of functioning of the student.

Unacceptable amendment

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

Inclusion of foreign exchange students (Element 10.1)

Wyoming proposes that foreign exchange students be exempted from taking the Proficiency Assessment for Wyoming Students (PAWS). Under this proposal, those foreign exchange students not seeking a diploma from a Wyoming school would not be required to take the PAWS and would not be included in the AYP participation rates at the school, district, and State levels. The Department cannot approve this request. As the Department stated in a letter to Chief State School Officers in March 2003 regarding the inclusion of foreign exchange students (refer to: An important goal of No Child Left Behind is to help English language learners who reside in the United States attain English proficiency, develop high levels of academic attainment in English, and meet the same challenging content standards expected of all students. The requirements of No Child Left Behind, however, should not deter a school district from accepting foreign exchange students. First, many foreign exchange students from non-English speaking countries have enough command of English to benefit from regular classroom instruction in English and, for that reason, would not be considered limited English proficient under No Child Left Behind. Second, even if a foreign exchange student is limited English proficient, No Child Left Behind does not mandate a particular type of instruction for that student, but gives school districts the flexibility to select, consistent with State law, an appropriate method for serving that student. Finally, assessment results for foreign exchange students who are enrolled in a school in the United States for less than a year, even if they are limited English proficient, are not to be included in the school-level measurement of adequate yearly progress required by No Child Left Behind.

Please note that, pursuant to the Department’s September 2006 regulations, any foreign exchange student who is limited English proficient may be exempted from taking the reading/language arts PAWS assessment and the results of the PAWS mathematics results do not need to be included in AYP determinations.

Decision Letters on State Accountability Plans