Wyoming Assessment Letter

June 22, 2006

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:

Thank you for your participation in the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department) standards and assessment peer review process 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). I appreciate the efforts required to prepare for the peer review. As you know, with the implementation of NCLB’s accountability provisions, each school, district, and State is held accountable for making adequate yearly progress (AYP) towards having all students proficient by 2013-14. An assessment system that produces valid and reliable results is fundamental to a State’s accountability system.

I am writing to follow up on the letter that was sent to you on May 10, 2006. In that letter we presented the results of the peer review of the Wyoming standards and assessment system and detailed the additional evidence necessary for Wyoming to meet the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(1) and (3) of the ESEA. A second peer review in May 2006 was not sufficient to resolve all of the issues. The need for the remaining outstanding evidence, as listed in the enclosure to this letter, remains.

As you will recall, the Department laid out new approval categories in the letter to the Chief State School Officers on April 24, 2006. These categories better reflect where States collectively are in the process of meeting the statutory standards and assessment requirements and where each State individually stands. Based on these new categories, the current status of the Wyoming standards and assessment system is Approval Pending. This status indicates that Wyoming’s standards and assessment system administered in the 2005-06 school year has two or more fundamental components that are missing or that do not meet the statutory and regulatory requirements, in addition to other outstanding issues that can be addressed more immediately. These deficiencies must be resolved in a timely manner so that the standards and assessment system administered next year meets all requirements. The Department believes that Wyoming can address the outstanding issues by the next administration of its assessment system, that is, by the end of the 2006-07 school year.

Wyoming’s system has a number of fundamental components that warrant the designation of Approval Pending. Specifically, the Department cannot approve Wyoming’s standards and assessment system due to outstanding concerns with the alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards (the Alternate Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students, or PAWS-Alt) and the process for standard setting for the new assessments based upon the field trial and operational assessments. Please refer to the enclosure for a detailed list of the evidence Wyoming must submit to meet the requirements for an approved standards and assessment system.

Accordingly, Wyoming is placed under Mandatory Oversight, pursuant to 34 C.F.R. §80.12. Under this status, there will be specific conditions placed on Wyoming’s fiscal year 2006 Title I, Part A grant award. Wyoming must provide, not later than 25 business days from receipt of this letter, a plan and detailed timeline for how it will meet the remaining requirements to come into full compliance by the end of the 2006-07 school year. Beginning in September 2006, Wyoming must also provide bi-monthly reports on its progress implementing the plan. If, at any time, Wyoming does not meet the timeline set forth in its plan, the Department will initiate proceedings, pursuant to Section 1111(g)(2) of the ESEA, to withhold 15 percent of Wyoming’s fiscal year 2006 Title I, Part A administrative funds, which will then revert to local educational agencies in Wyoming.

I know you are anxious to receive full approval of your standards and assessment system and we are committed to helping you get there. Toward that end, let me reiterate my earlier offer of technical assistance. We remain available to assist you however necessary to ensure you administer a fully approved standards and assessment system. We will schedule an additional peer review when you have evidence available to further evaluate your system. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to call Patrick Rooney (Patrick.Rooney@ed.gov) or Sue Rigney (Sue.Rigney@ed.gov) of my staff.

Sincerely,

Henry L. Johnson

Enclosure

cc: Governor Dave Freudenthal
Annette Bohling

Summary of Additional Evidence that Wyoming Must Submit to Meet ESEA Requirements for the Wyoming Assessment System

2.0 – ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT STANDARDS

  1. Final comprehensive reports from the Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students (PAWS) and the PAWS-Alt standard setting, including the qualifications of the panelists indicating experience with students with disabilities and students with limited English proficiency.
  2. Evidence of State Board adoption of the achievement standards for the PAWS and the PAWS-Alt assessments.
  3. A plan and timeline for the completion and adoption of the final academic achievement descriptors and cut scores for science assessments.

4.0 – TECHNICAL QUALITY

  1. A completed technical manual that includes detailed information regarding item and test development, procedures for combining results based on multiple choice and constructed response items as well as the combination of reading and writing results to produce a language arts proficiency score, standard setting, scaling, scoring and equating procedures and validity and reliability information.
  2. Reliability and validity information for the operational PAWS and PAWS-Alt assessments, including data supporting concurrent and consequential validity.
  3. Data confirming that the accommodations permitted on the PAWS assessment support valid use of the assessment results.
  4. Comparability evidence showing that tests administered both on-line and by paper and pencil are comparable in order to support standards set on the basis of paper/pencil administration (field trial) but applied to the online administration (operational).
  5. Specific information regarding the processes for reconciling results from the 2006 Blue Ribbon Panel and the summer 2005 standard-setting participants.

5.0 – ALIGNMENT

  1. The systematic procedures that will be used to address the alignment gaps documented in the Ely alignment study.
  2. Final test construction blueprints for the PAWS assessment as administered in 2005-06 and future years.
  3. Documentation showing that the operational PAWS-Alt assessment is aligned with grade-level content standards.

6.0 – INCLUSION

  1. Participation data for the PAWS and PAWS-Alt assessments showing that all students enrolled are included in the State assessments. Please note that this is not the same as AYP participation rates; AYP reports will not meet this requirement.
  2. Additional documentation for the PAWS-Alt assessment, including guidelines for eligibility for the PAWS-Alt assessment, evidence that the guidelines were disseminated to the field in a timely manner, and a complete description of the test administered in 2005-06 with an explanation of how pilot results were or will be incorporated in the final operational test.

7.0 – REPORTS

  1. Sample student reports for the PAWS and PAWS-Alt with the explanatory materials provided to parents and educators.
  2. Sample school, district, and State reports that include data for the migrant population.
  3. Sample item analysis.
  4. Evidence that the State has notified LEAs of the procedures to be used for distributing student reports to parents in a timely manner.

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