Variety of approaches covered in first 12 ESSA accountability plans
- States that have already submitted accountability plans to the U.S. Department of Education in accordance with the Every Student Succeeds Act are using many metrics in crafting ways to determine student performance and achievement, according to an analysis of the 12 submitted plans conducted by Education Week.
- The new legislation gives more authority to states and local districts, and states are charged with determining how student (and therefore school) achievement should be judged, and attendance rates have emerged as a common metric.
- The U.S. Department of Education has already informed two of the states, Maine and Massachusetts, that their accountability plans are incomplete, and while it is unknown how heavy a hand the department will wield over the specifics of each plan, this could be an indication of how much, and for what, it will push back on the plans.
Many states will not be submitting their own accountability plans until the fall and may examine how the department responds to these first 12 states for clues on how to best craft their own plans for approval. Ed Week does note that Massachusetts did little to change the process for school improvement it developed during No Child Left Behind, ESSA’s predecessor. The department’s rejection of Massachusetts could lead states that have not yet submitted their plans to err on the side of more drastic changes to their current procedures.
ESSA continues the mandate from NCLB that the federal government can withhold certain funding if a state does not meet 95% in student test participation, which has become a challenge for certain states as student opt-out rates continue to grow. The ESSA does allow parents to opt-out, but states must now determine how exactly to penalize schools that don't meet the standard, unlike NCLB.
The proposals from the 12 submitted plans run the gamut. In Delaware, a school with lower participation rates would have to submit a plan to the state about how it can boost its numbers, while in Louisiana and Michigan, students who do not participate in exams will receive a score of zero. The opt-out movement will likely have much different reactions from state to state, now that ESSA revokes NCLB’s regulatory uniformity.