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Who's In and Who's Out of Differentiated Accountability

Yesterday, I reported that the Department of Education had approved 29 states' standards and assessment plans. I based that on my reading of decision letters on the department's Web site.

Since then, I've gotten clarification on where states stand. All told, 31 states have received the Department of Education's "full approval" or "approval with recommendations," Chad Colby, a department spokesman, told me in an e-mail. All of them will qualify to participate in the pilot project on "differential accountability."

Colby wrote that four states and the District of Columbia are in the "approval expected" category. They probably will have their testing systems completed and approved by the department by the start of the 2008-09 school year. They can apply for the differential accountability project, but they wouldn't be allowed to implement their plan until their standards and assessment had been certified by the department.

Another nine states are in "approval pending." These include Louisiana and South Dakota. Yesterday, I reported that South Dakota has not been approved based on this July 13 letter, which says the state hadn't been assigned "an approval status." That has changed, Colby told me.

Finally, six states and Puerto Rico haven't been approved and remain far away from getting approved. They are working with the department on agreements outlining the steps they'll need to take to get their testing systems up to snuff. These states plan will probably need two or three years to complete their work, Kerri L. Briggs, the assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education, told me in an interview today.

Nebraska is in a "holding pattern," Briggs said, as its lawmakers consider major changes to the state's testing system. (See Nebraska Bill Would Boost States Tests' Status.)

If you want to see where your state stands, see this list I've compiled.

If you want to read more about the "differential accountability," my story from this week's newspaper is States Get Flexibility on Targets. And here are other blog posts on this issue:
Lawmakers on Left and Right Criticize Pilot Project
Minnesota, Other States Left Behind in Accountability Pilot
Spellings Creates Pilot Project to Differentiate Consequences

Other stories of note in the March 26, 2008, issue of Education Week:
States Seeking Proper Balance in Use of ELL Test Scores
FOIA Requeset Elicits Greeting and Blank Pages

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