The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) is seeking public comment on a request to the U.S. Department of Education (USED) to extend the waiver related to the number of students participating in the alternate assessment aligned with alternate academic achievement standards (AA-AAAS).

The AA-AAAS is aligned with alternate academic achievement standards on the annual statewide Kentucky Summative Assessment, formerly known as the Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP) test.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) - as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Section 1111(b)(2)(D) and its corresponding regulation 34 CFR 200.6(c) and (d) - contains requirements for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities to participate in statewide testing through the use of AA-AAAS.

According to federal law, no more than 1.0% of the total number of students participating in a statewide assessment such as the Kentucky Summative Assessment may take the alternate assessment in each subject area tested.

Data from the 2020-2021 school year shows that slightly more than 1.0% of Kentucky's students participated in AA-AAAS. Under 34 C.F.R. §200.6(c)(4), if a state anticipates it will exceed the cap for any subject for which assessments are administered in a school year, the state may request that the U.S. secretary of education waive the cap for the relevant subject for one year. KDE plans to submit a request to extend the waiver to USED in reading, mathematics and science.

To receive an extended waiver, KDE must:

Gather data on the characteristics of students participating in the AA-AAAS;

Determine whether only those students who have significant cognitive disabilities are participating;

Monitor alternate assessment data and request justification from all districts exceeding 1% participation in any subject; and

Address any disproportionality in the percentage of students taking the alternate assessment.

As outlined in the 2020-2021 Kentucky's 1.0% Waiver Request for Reading, Mathematics and Science, the KDE Office of Special Education and Early Learning (OSEEL), regional special education cooperatives and school districts have worked collaboratively to develop and implement guidance, training and monitoring to ensure only the students with the most significant cognitive disabilities are participating in the AA-AAAS. The proposed waiver details the progress made in 2020-2021 and the 2021-2022 school year plan.

The proposed waiver is available on KDE's website. General information on Kentucky's AA-AAAS is available on KDE's Kentucky Alternate Assessment Participation Waiver webpage.

The public comment period will be through Aug. 11, 2021. The public may send written comments on the proposed waiver to Sylvia Starkey, Director, Division of IDEA Monitoring and Results, Office of Special Education and Early Learning, Kentucky Department of Education, 300 Sower Blvd., Fourth Floor, Frankfort, KY 40601. Comments also may be submitted by email to Sylvia.Starkey@education.ky.gov, by telephone at (502) 564-4970, ext. 4118, or by fax at (502) 564-4124.

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