I am following up on Assistant Secretary Brogan’s November 12, 2018, letter outlining the amendment process for consolidated State plans under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESEA). As a reminder, amendment requests for the 2019-2020 school year must be submitted no later than March 1, 2019, so that we have time to review and provide a response to you in time to make your accountability determinations.
As indicated in the letter, prior to submitting any amendment to the U.S. Department of Education (Department), a State must consult with the Governor, afford a reasonable opportunity for public comment, and then submit to the Department:
1. A redlined version of the consolidated State plan that reflects all proposed changes;
2. A cover letter describing the proposed changes;
3. The signature of the chief State school officer or authorized representative; and
4. A description of how the State provided the public a reasonable opportunity to comment on the plan.
While you are not required to make any amendments, now that you have been through your first round of accountability determinations under your approved State plan, we understand that you may want to refine your system. In addition, we have received many requests related to the identification of schools for additional targeted support and want to provide some clarifications about this requirement.
Finally, we ask for your assistance in making sure you and the Department meet requirements to make State plans publicly available that are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Identification of Additional Targeted Support Schools
Over the past several months, the Department has received requests for assistance regarding identification of schools for additional targeted support (ATSI). Sections 1111(d)(2)(C)-(D) of the ESEA requires each State to identify any school that has one or more subgroups performing as poorly as any Title I school identified as among the lowest-performing (i.e., in the bottom five percent) for comprehensive support and improvement (CSI) using the same methodology the State used to identify those CSI schools. In practice, this requires each State to apply the same process it uses to identify schools for CSI to subgroups. This might mean, for example, if a State calculates an index score out of 100 for each school to identify the lowest-performing schools for comprehensive support and improvement, the State would calculate an index score out of 100 for each subgroup and identify for additional targeted support any school with a subgroup that scores at or below the index score of the highest performing school identified for comprehensive support and improvement.
Although there is no statutory flexibility for the methodology for identifying additional targeted support schools, there are two areas in which States have discretion. First, each State establishes the frequency for identifying ATSI schools. Second, a State determines whether it identifies ATSI schools from among all schools, including non-Title I schools, or from among only those schools identified for targeted support and improvement based on having one or more consistently underperforming (TSI-Consistently Underperforming) subgroups. The methodology to identify TSI-Consistently Underperforming schools must be based on the performance of all indicators in the system of annual meaningful differentiation and must be done annually, although each State determines in what year it will start identifying these schools. A State has broad discretion in establishing the methodology for identifying these schools within these parameters.
Accessibility of State Plans to Individuals with Disabilities
The Department is required to ensure that all documents posted on www.ed.gov, including all approved consolidated State plans, are compliant with section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794d (Section 508), meaning they are in a format that is accessible to members of the public who are individuals with disabilities. Similarly, States are covered by the nondiscrimination requirements in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which require States to make their services and programs accessible to individuals with disabilities, including communications with members of the public.
If you intend to submit an amendment to your State plan by March 1, 2019, please note that once the Department approves your amendment, we request that you submit an amended plan in a format that is accessible for posting on the Department’s website. We are making this request because States are familiar with their plans and should be able to accurately identify the particular aspects of their plans (i.e., charts and tables) that need to be made accessible.
If you do not intend to submit an amended plan by March 1, 2019, the Department will work with you to ensure that your currently approved State plan that is posted on www.ed.gov is accessible.
Listed below are a few suggestions to assist you in making your plan accessible:
1. Review the Department resources to determine whether your document is accessible.
2. Make sure that all figures, graphics, and images contain Alt Text so that they can be read by a screen reader. If the text above or below the figure explains the figure, the alt text could be something as simple as “See text above or below.”
3. Run an accessibility check to identify non-accessible aspects of your plan.
- If you use Microsoft Word, select File - Check for issues - Check Accessibility.
- If you use Adobe Acrobat Pro, select Tools – Accessibility – Full Check.