NDDPI to Seek Test Limit Waiver

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BISMARCK, N.D., Nov. 14, 2017 – The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction plans to ask the U.S. Department of Education for a waiver from federal rules that limit how many students may take alternative state assessments in math and English. The department is seeking public comment on this request. Comments must be submitted by Nov. 30. Instructions are below.
MEMO TO:  North Dakota Educators and the Public
FROM:         Tammy Mayer, North Dakota Alternate Assessment Coordinator
DATE:          November 14, 2017

RE:               ND Waiver Application for NDAA 1% Cap
Pursuant to 34 C.F.R. §200.6(c)(4), the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI) will seek a waiver for the 2017-2018 school year from the Secretary for the United States Department of Education. The regulation in question, found at 34 C.F.R. 200.6(c)(2), requires State Education Agencies such as the NDDPI to limit the total number of students assessed in a subject area using an alternate assessment. The limit on the percentage of students assessed by the alternate assessment is set by the Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) federal regulation, stating there shall be no more than one (1) percent of the total number of students taking the North Dakota Alternate Assessment assessed in English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science.  The most recent data on the percentage of students taking the North Dakota’s Alternate Assessments in English Language Arts and Mathematics stands at just over 1 percent. For Science, it is just below 1 percent.
North Dakota requires all students enrolled in a public K-12 learning institution be assessed either with accommodations, without accommodations or with an alternate assessment. The only exception to participation is for a student who receives a medical or extraordinary circumstances non-participation waiver. North Dakota follows the federal participation requirement and, to date, has met or exceeded the federal guidelines set at 95 percent participation.

According to 34 C.F.R. §200.6 (c) (4), “If a state anticipates that it will exceed the cap under paragraph (c) (2) of this section with respect to any subject for which assessments are administered under §200.2 (a) (1) in any school year, the State may request that the Secretary [of Education] waive the cap for the relevant subject(s), pursuant to section 8401 of the Act, for one year.”

The NDDPI plans to submit the waiver request to the U.S. Department of Education in the areas of English Language Arts and Mathematics.

The waiver request states that NDDPI will gather data on the characteristics of students participating in the alternate assessment to provide a standard from which to determine whether students are participating who do not have significant cognitive disabilities.

The NDDPI will monitor alternate assessment data annually and request justification from districts that exceed the one percent cap. The NDDPI will address any disproportionality in the percentage of students taking the alternate assessment.

The proposed waiver is available on the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction website.

The USDE requires states to provide all districts and interested parties in the state with notice and a reasonable opportunity to comment on this waiver request. We are providing this statewide notice by sending an email over the distribution lists and post the waiver application on the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction’s website. Any public comments must be submitted prior to 5:00 p.m., CT, on November 30, 2017.