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Every Student Succeeds Act

Louisiana and Ohio Local Superintendents Attempt to Block States’ ESSA Plans

By Daarel Burnette II — February 21, 2017 2 min read
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As the first deadline under the Every Student Succeeds Act looms, some final drafts of state accountability plans are getting pushback from some local superintendents.

The first deadline to submit plans to the federal government comes April 3. But governors get 30 days to review the plans before they’re sent off, so many departments, state board members, and state legislators have been putting their final touches on the plans in the last several weeks.

There’s a lot at stake, and that’s not lost on advocacy associations that have crowded state board meetings in recent weeks.

Take Louisiana, for example. On Thursday, Feb. 16, the state’s influential Superintendents’ Advisory Council, which advises the state’s school board, met with the state school board and state superintendent John White.

Members of the council told board members that the plan doesn’t break away enough from the current state plan under the state’s waiver from provisions of ESSA’s predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act.

Specifically, the group wants to, among other things, make changes to the state’s letter grade system, how standardized testing is conducted, and the design of the state’s report card, according to the Louisiana Advocate. The group brought along with it a letter signed by nine advocacy organizations in the state that are pushing for similar changes.

Louisiana’s governor, John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, has appointed a panel that has designed an ESSA plan with entirely different proposals than the state board’s.

During the meeting, Michael Faulk, the superintendent of Central Schools Parish, proposed to slow the timeline down, but responded Superintendent White:

The superintendents decided against holding a vote on whether to delay the plan.

Meanwhile, in Ohio, a group of 10 district superintendents say the state’s ESSA plan, in its final draft, keeps too closely to provisions of ESSA’s predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act and will continue to push teachers to focus too much on state tests. They’ve dubbed the plan, “No Child Left Behind 2.0.”

Specifically, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the superintendents want the state to make changes to the state’s letter grade system and reduce the amount of testing required. Some superintendents have suggested that the state wait until the U.S. Department of Education issues new guidance in March.

One of the state board members said at the meeting that she will propose at the state’s next board meeting to delay turning in the ESSA plan until September.

The superintendents will have a forum later this month to debate the contents of the plan and gather more community feedback.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.