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INFORMATIONAL LETTER: 37

POLICY CODE: CGD

 

TO: Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents, and Curriculum Coordinators

 

FROM: Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner

 

DATE: October 23, 2003

 

RE: UPDATE Public Announcement on Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)

 

As you know, the Maine Department of Education has received two Freedom of Access (FOA) requests related to documents created to notify schools of their preliminary AYP status. Though we have made a strong argument that the release of such preliminary data could serve no meaningful public purpose (and indeed many media representatives have agreed with this), the FOA requests have not been withdrawn. Therefore, rather than release incomplete and misleading information about AYP preliminary status to the public, we have decided to accelerate our internal review of all appeals so that we can release final and accurate data on school status at the same time we are obliged, under the law, to release requested documents. As a result, we have changed our scheduled press conference to an informational forum, to be held on Friday, October 24, 2003 at 11:00 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the State House.

 

The following considerations are listed in response to questions many superintendents raised on Wednesday regarding the release of further AYP information:

 

         As noted above, DOE staff will be working overtime to complete the review of all appeals from local districts and will be able to adjust school status in the light of the new data.

 

         Since we will be able to complete this review, DOE will emphasize in our public announcement that many schools which did not make AYP on the preliminary data run, but have had their status changed, should be clearly identified as such if the preliminary data is printed.

 

         Schools that did not make AYP solely on the basis of the Socioeconomic Status (SES) category will not be identified at this time. We are currently unable to determine whether or not districts and schools have met AYP for socioeconomic status at this time. Identification for this category has been postponed pending the completion of a full review of data for this category with each district.

 

         We will be providing superintendents in affected districts with data on student responses to the home Internet question as soon as we receive it from Measured Progress, so they can compare to other local data on SES. A further, more complete update on this issue will be forthcoming.

 

         We have clarified with Brud Maxcy that special education student information was obtained from district MEA reports in the same manner in each of the last several years. Therefore, if you question whether all special education students were included in your two-year numbers, the apparent source of a discrepancy is in the coding performed at the local level. Do not hesitate to pursue this with DOE staff to ensure that the most accurate data is used for AYP determinations.

 

Both Patrick Phillips and I will be present at the MSMA Fall Conference and would be happy to respond to your questions and concerns. As I stated on Wednesday, our commitment is to learn from this first effort to comply with the new federal requirements and improve wherever possible.