Blog

Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12

Betsy DeVos. Donald Trump. The Every Student Succeeds Act. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states.

Education

Betsy DeVos Team Critiques ESSA Plans for Georgia, Utah, and Puerto Rico

By Alyson Klein — December 15, 2017 3 min read

Georgia and Utah, as well as hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, have some work to do on their plans to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, according letters published this week by the U.S. Department of Education. Each turned in its ESSA plan back in September. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her team are just beginning to respond to state plans. (Maryland is the only other state that submitted this fall to receive feedback.)

Here’s a quick look at some of the issues the department sited in each plan. Click on the state name to read the full letter from the feds.

Georgia

Georgia has proposed looking at whether schools are able to close achievement gaps as part of its academic achievement indicator. The department says that gap-closing can’t be used there, although it can figure in elsewhere in the state’s accountability system.

The Peach State has listed nine indicators of school quality or student success, but it hasn’t sufficiently explained how they would be measured, or how they will differentiate among schools, the department says.

Georgia needs to do a better job of explaining how much weight it is giving to different accountability indicators. ESSA says academic factors, like test scores, need to count for more than school quality indicators, like school climate. It’s not clear Georgia met that requirement, the feds say.

The state needs to provide more information to show that its plans for identifying low-performing schools and schools where certain groups of students are struggling meet ESSA’s requirements. And it needs to explain how it will ensure poor students get their fair share of effective teachers, the department says.

The department isn’t sure Georgia is following ESSA’s rules for making sure at least 95 percent of students participate in standardized testing.

Utah

The department says Utah needs to spell out its long-term goals for math and reading, and for English-language learners to attain proficiency.

The feds want Utah to make it clear whether it is using the ACT or some other assessment as its test for high school students.

Utah is allowing its local districts to come up with their own factors to measure school quality or student success. If those factors are used in state accountability determinations, the department is worried not every school will be held accountable for the same indicators.

It is unclear whether graduation rates, English-language proficiency, and test scores make up at least half of a school’s overall rating in Utah’s system, as required by ESSA, the department says.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico needs to better explain how it is identifying so-called “targeted support” schools that might be doing well overall, but where particular groups of students are struggling, the department says.

Puerto Rico needs to better spell out how it will make sure poor kids get their fair share of effective teachers, according to the feds.

Puerto Rico is using teacher attendance as its indicator of school quality and student success but needs to better explain how that will be measured, the department says.

The department isn’t sure Puerto Rico is following ESSA’s rules for making sure at least 95 percent of students participate in standardized testing.

Do states have to revise their plans based on the federal feedback? That’s unclear. States that submitted their plans this spring got the federal seal of approval even if they didn’t change things the department asked them to change. For instance, Tennessee still has so-called “super subgroups,” which combine different groups of students for accountability purposes, even though the feds have said that’s a no-no. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., an ESSA architect and the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, has expressed big concerns about this.

What’s more, the department initially released extensive feedback letters for every state. Then it decided to change the review process midway, in favor of calling states and expressing concerns. That happened after big pushback from states and Republicans in Congress that DeVos’ team was asking for more from states than the law required.

Where do state ESSA plans stand? Sixteen states and the District of Columbia submitted their ESSA plans this fall. So far, all but one of those states has been approved. (The exception is Colorado, which asked for more time to improve its plan.) Another 34 states submitted their plans earlier this fall. So far, Maryland is the only other state to receive feedback.

Keep track of state ESSA plans here.

Photo: Swikar Patel for Education Week.


Follow us on Twitter at @PoliticsK12.

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

7796 - Director of EAL (K-12) - August '21
Dubai, UAE
GEMS Education
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read