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TO:                  Superintendents of Schools, Principals, Curriculum Coordinators, Special Education Directors, School Health Coordinators, and Title 1 Coordinators               


FROM:            Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner


DATE:             November 6, 2003


RE:                   Using Confidence Intervals for Evaluating Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)



            As you know, Maine has adopted the use of confidence intervals for evaluating school and district Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).  This policy derives from the formal recommendation of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) last year.


Ted Coladarci, co-chair of TAC and Visiting Fellow with the Department for the 2003-2004 school year, has written a paper in which he describes the meaning of confidence intervals and their rationale within the context of AYP.  His paper, which appeared as a Rural School and Community Trust policy brief, is entitled Gallup goes to school:  The Importance of Confidence Intervals for Evaluating “Adequate Yearly Progress” in Small Schools.  It is available online at


The following is the abstract for Ted’s paper:  Indicators of school-level achievement, such as the percentage of students who are proficient in a particular content area, are subject to random year-to-year variation in much the same way that the results of an opinion poll will vary from one random sample to another.  This random variation, which is more pronounced for a small school, should be taken into account by education officials when evaluating school progress in a policy climate of high stakes.  To do otherwise is to risk the false identification of a failing school.  In this monograph, I describe the application of confidence intervals to the evaluation of “adequate yearly progress” for No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  Throughout, I demonstrate the particular relevance of confidence intervals for small schools.  Upon completion, readers will understand why 27 states included confidence intervals in their NCLB accountability plans (and perhaps wonder why the remaining states did not).”


I am sure that you find Ted’s paper informative, and I encourage you to read it.  A brief, nontechnical summary also is available (, but I know he would be disappointed if you didn’t read the full paper.