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TEA Correspondence

OCTOBER 3, 2003

TO THE ADMINISTRATOR ADDRESSED:

The purpose of this communication is to provide guidance to educators in making appropriate assessment decisions for the 2003-04 school year under the new federal accountability requirements in No Child Left Behind (NCLB). A number of pending decisions related to use of assessment results in the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) calculation will be resolved during the 2003-04 school year. During this time, existing state assessment policies and procedures remain in effect. Throughout the AYP discussions with United States Department of Education (USDE), the integrity of the Texas assessment program has been maintained. This will continue to be a priority as additional components of the AYP calculation are finalized and implemented in 2004.

Students with Disabilities Receiving Special Education Services. For students with disabilities receiving special education services, state policies and procedures related to assessment decision making are detailed in the Texas Education Agency (TEA) publication titled Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) Committee Decision-making Process for the Texas Assessment Program. This publication can be accessed from the TEA website at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment. It is critically important that local school districts follow the state policies and procedures to ensure that appropriate assessments are selected and administered to students with disabilities. Local school districts are reminded that students with disabilities are to be involved in and progress in the general education curriculum (the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills – TEKS). Additionally, students with disabilities must participate in whole and/or in part in one of the three available assessments, which include Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), State-Developed Alternative Assessment (SDAA), and Locally Determined Alternative Assessments (LDAA).

The ARD Committee should choose an assessment that most closely aligns to the instruction the student is receiving in the TEKS. LDAAs are administered to students receiving TEKS-based instruction (1) when their accommodations invalidate the SDAA, or (2) when an SDAA does not exist for the area being assessed. LDAAs are also administered to those students who are not receiving any TEKS-based instruction and may take the form of portfolios, anecdotal records with work samples, off-the-shelf tests, etc. There is no state-mandated or state-approved list of appropriate LDAAs. LDAA results must be filed in the student’s eligibility folder in order to report to TEA and share with parents. Districts are encouraged to develop local procedures or systems to ensure that results are reported in a timely manner to parents and TEA.

TEA is awaiting further guidance from the USDE specific to the use and inclusion of assessment results from the SDAA and LDAA in the AYP calculation. The federal notice of proposed rule-making related to use of alternative assessment results in AYP limits use of results from alternative assessments. Furthermore, the Texas Legislature amended Texas Education Code (TEC) §39.075, Special Accreditation Investigations, by adding an additional risk calculation that would trigger a special accreditation investigation when excessive numbers of students receiving special education services are assessed using the SDAA. This new state provision goes into effect with the 2004-05 school year. Clearly these regulations will require thoughtful consideration by local school district admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committees when selecting between the TAKS, SDAA and LDAA.

Students with Limited English Proficiency. For students with limited English proficiency, state policies and procedures are detailed in the TEA publication titled LPAC Decision-Making Process for the Texas Assessment Program. This publication can be accessed from the TEA website at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment. This manual outlines procedures for districts to follow to ensure that LEP students are assessed appropriately and at the earliest practical date. The manual also reminds school districts of the importance of acting without delay to provide LEP students the specialized instruction they need to succeed fully in the TEKS curriculum.

Three processes relevant to the pending AYP decisions will be finalized during the 2003-04 school year: (1) the adoption by USDE of final NCLB regulations related to the assessment of students receiving special education services, (2) the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and (3) the evaluation by USDE of the Texas NCLB assessment system. As more information becomes available from USDE, a proposal will be prepared by TEA covering the following pending issues related to the AYP assessment measures:

  • evaluation of SDAA performance results for AYP (including evaluation of results for students in the first year of testing on SDAA);
  • evaluation of LDAA performance results of students exempted from the TAKS and SDAA;
  • evaluation of the reading and mathematics performance of LEP students who are eligible for a LEP exemption from TAKS under state policy; and
  • implementation of NCLB limitations on the use of alternative assessments.

TEA will continue to keep districts informed as these AYP assessment issues are resolved. In the meantime, decisions concerning student instruction and participation in the spring 2004 assessments should occur in accordance with existing state policies and procedures. If you have questions about the assessment policies and procedures described in the publications cited above, please contact the Student Assessment Division at 512-463-9536 or send email to studenta@tea.state.tx.us. Questions concerning appropriate inclusion of special education students in LDAAs should be addressed to the Department of Special Education at 512-463-9414.

Sincerely,

Robert Scott
Chief Deputy Commissioner

TEA Homepage
A MS Word Version of this letter is available for download.

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