ESSA State Plans: Notable Developments
With limited resources, a number of vacant leadership positions throughout the Department, and under significant political pressure, the United States Department of Education (US ED) is reviewing and approving the state plans required by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Recent changes to the review process and the recent approval of the plan submitted by Michigan have come with some controversy.
Michigan: US ED approved Michigan’s plan the day after Thanksgiving, following at least five rounds of revisions. Michigan submitted its plan for the April 2017 deadline. Following US ED’s approval, the Education Trust-Midwest released a statement saying the plan’s approval was a missed opportunity to advance equity and that the plan still had a number of significant deficiencies, including the lack of summative ratings, a switch to less rigorous exams in the state’s testing system, and a lack of clarity about how struggling schools will be identified and supported. The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) dismissed the public statement as having misrepresented the feedback MDE received from federal officials and as representing an “outlier” opinion. Meanwhile, the lack of a centralized support structure/accountability system in Detroit has become the source of some conflict, and may push members of the state legislature to implement a summative A-F ratings system for schools and districts.
Other States to Watch
It is unclear how US ED will approach the approval process for the following state plans, each of which pose significant challenges to ESSA’s statutory requirements:
- West Virginia has decided not to account for the graduation rates of student subgroups in their accountability system. West Virginia also does not assign summative ratings to schools.
- New York’s request to US ED for a waiver from certain of ESSA’s requirements has drawn criticism from advocates because of the way the state is proposing to assess the academic proficiency of students with disabilities.
- Florida has not asked US ED for a formal waiver but also does not plan to include the proficiency of English Learners in their accountability system.
- Check State Plans (Collaborative for Student Success | December 12)
- This Week’s ESSA News: New York’s Waiver Request Sparks Civil Rights Backlash and Florida’s “Terrible” ELL Proposal (The 74 Million | December 3)
- Civil Rights and Education Groups Call on DeVos to Reject New York’s ESSA Waiver Request (The Leadership Conference on Civil and HUman Rights | November 29)
- Minority Graduation Rate Accountability Provision Cut from WV ESSA Plan (Charleston Gazette-Mail | November 29)
- DeVos Greenlights Michigan’s Unacceptably Weak Plan for Public Education (The Education Trust – Midwest | November 28)
Be a Part of the Process:
- Get Informed: Read your state’s ESSA plan and learn more about US ED’s review of your state’s plan.
- Take Action: Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-2311 to speak with your members of Congress about US ED’s enforcement of the statutory language of ESSA.
- Take Local Action: Contact members of your state’s legislature regarding their position on your state’s ESSA Plan. Contact your state educational agency (SEA) and local school board about the details of your state’s ESSA Plan, including implementation and monitoring activities.