The U.S. Department of Education is almost done critiquing states’ Every Student Succeeds Act plans. In fact, Idaho, which received a letter from the department on Dec. 27, is the second to last state to get a response. (The lone state still waiting: South Carolina, which turned in its plan late for weather related reasons).
Like the other thirty-two states that have gotten feedback so far this winter, Idaho has a long list of things to work on. For instance:
Idaho is planning to create a “minority children” subgroup that combines six different groups of students. Civil rights groups say that combining subgroups that way masks achievement gaps. And the department says they are an ESSA no-no if states try to use those “super subgroups” on their own for accountability.
Idaho doesn’t have a clear method of measuring English proficiency and incorporating it into its accountability system. That’s not Kosher under ESSA, the department says. (Florida has a similar issue.)
Idaho needs to be more specific about how it will identify schools where subgroups of students are consistently low-performing.
Quick refresher: Sixteen states and the District of Columbia turned in ESSA plans in the spring. So far, all of them have been approved, except Colorado. The other 34 states submitted plans this fall. And all of them have gotten feedback, except of course, the Palmetto State. You can read all of the feedback letters here. Nearly every state had a lot to improve.
Originally Published, January 4, 2017
For the past five months, we have followed the development of Minnesota’s state accountability plan as mandated by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). While the US Department of Education (USDE) has defined what must be included in four of the plans’ required indicators, states have the freedom to choose which measures they will include in their fifth indicator, of school quality/student success (SQ/SS).
As we’ve previously written, because of the lack of available data, chronic absenteeism was identified by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) as the only SQ/SS measure that’s currently feasible for Minnesota. However, on November 29th, USDE extended ESSA implementation by one year, giving MDE’s Advisory Committee additional time to create a well-rounded SQ/SS indicator that would, ideally, include more than chronic absenteeism.
While most states have not released their ESSA draft plans, thirteen have—Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington. Arizona, Idaho, Montana, and North Carolina, however, do not define what possible SQ/SS measures their state will use.
All of the other states, except South Carolina, indicated that they intend to use chronic absenteeism as one of their SQ/SS measures; with Delaware, Maryland, Tennessee, and Washington using it only for elementary and middle schools.
Two SQ/SS measures were prominent throughout the state’s draft plans—Career and College Readiness and 9th Grade On-Track. Below are descriptions of the measures.
College and Career Readiness Measure
Seven states—Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington—have some form of a College and Career Readiness measure that calculates a school’s performance on or access to Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), SAT, ACT, Career and Technical Education (CTE), and Dual Enrollment.
South Carolina’s measure is more complex, with high schools earning points based on the percentage of students who meet the College Ready/Career Ready benchmark, which is comprised of several different metrics, such as earning a 3 or higher on an AP exam or meeting ACT benchmarks in mathematics (22) and English (18).
Similarly, Tennessee’s measure, Ready Graduate, is calculated by multiplying the graduation rate and the highest percentage of students who do one of the following:
Score a 21+ on the ACT OR
Complete 4 Early Postsecondary Opportunities (EPSOs) OR
Complete 2 EPSOs and earn an industry certification
Washington’s measure is more prescriptive. It only has a metric for dual credit participation, which is measured by the percent of students who participate in a dual credit educational program.
Delaware is the only state whose measure includes a metric for elementary and middle schools. Specifically, Delaware uses a “growth to proficiency” metric, which measures the percentage of students on track to be at grade level in a given content area within three years.
Minnesota initially considered including a College and Career Readiness measure, but due to insufficient and misaligned data systems, the Technical Committee decided at the October 25th meeting to delay its inclusion.
9th Grade On-Track Measure
Three states—Illinois, Oregon, and Washington—indicated in their draft plans that they intended to use 9th-grade on track as a measure, which is the percent of first-time 9th grade students in a high school who do not fail a course.
Other SQ/SS Measures
Illinois: Early childhood education, which would be measured by kindergarten transition, pre-literacy activities, and academic gains. Unfortunately, the draft plan did not flesh out what “kindergarten transition” would measure, but it did indicate that it might not be ready for the 2017-18 academic year.
Illinois’ plan indicated that they may also use a school climate survey. Currently, Illinois uses the 5Essentials survey, which was developed at the University of Chicago and measures a school’s effectiveness in the following five areas:
Louisiana: Their ESSA Framework included a comprehensive list of SQ/SS measures that were divided into four categories:
Mastery of Fundamental Skills
Serving Historically Disadvantaged Students
Fair and Equitable Access to Enriching Experiences
Celebrating and Strengthening the Teaching Profession
Louisiana’s entire list of SQ/SS measures can be found here.
South Carolina: An “Effective Learning Environment Student Survey”, which would be administered every January to students in grades 4-12 and would include 29 items that measure topics on equitable learning, high expectations, supportive learning, active learning, progress monitoring and feedback, digital learning, and well-managed learning.
We will continue to report on ESSA updates in Minnesota and the country. MDE’s next ESSA Accountability meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 5th from 5:30-8:00 PM. For more information about MDE’s ESSA implementation plan, visit their website.
Congress is late in turning in two important assignments that affect young children: Both the Children’s Health Insurance Program and a federally funded program that provides counseling to vulnerable families expired Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.
Neither program will run out of money immediately, and both programs have support from Republicans and Democrats. But the expiration, even if it proves temporary, illustrates how difficult it has been for Congress to address other legislation as it has wrestled, unsuccessfully, with repealing the Affordable Care Act.
The highest-profile of the two programs to expire is the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which Congress failed to extend by the end of September, could put a financial strain on states—and eventually jeopardize coverage for the roughly 9 million children covered by the program…
It’s one of the most controversial questions about the Every Student Succeeds Act and accountability in general: How should schools be graded?
Since nearly all states have at least turned in their ESSA plans, and many ESSA plans have been approved, we now have a good idea of how states are answering those questions. Keep one thing in mind: ESSA requires certain low-performing schools to be identified as needing either targeted or comprehensive support. States have no wiggle room on that. But beyond that, states can assign things like A-F grades, stars, or points. Based on the states that have turned in their plans—and remember, not every state has—We did some good old-fashioned counting and came to the following conclusions, in chart form:
Here are a few notes about that chart.
1) Many states use some kind of points system only as a starting point, since they then use those systems to arrive at final grades or scores that are presented differently to the public…
By: Michelle Croft and Richard Lee ACT Research and Policy
Despite (or because of) the federal requirement that all students in certain grades participate in statewide achievement testing, stories of parents opting their student out of the testing gained national attention in the media in the spring of 2015. Ultimately, twelve states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin—received a notice from the U.S. Department of Education that they needed to create a plan to reduce opt-outs due to low participation rates.
When statewide testing came in spring 2016, there were more stories of opt-outs, and information about districts failing to meet participation requirements will follow in the coming months.3 Early reports from New York indicate that 21% of students in grades 3–8 opted out in 2016, which was slightly more than the prior year. (See attached PDF below for reference information.)
Participation Rate Requirements
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (both the No Child Left Behind and the Every Student Succeeds authorizations) requires that all students annually participate in statewide achievement testing in mathematics and English in grades 3–8 and high school as well as science in certain grade spans. Ninety-five percent of students at the state, district, and school level must participate; otherwise there is a range of consequences.
Under the No Child Left Behind authorization, the school would automatically fail to meet Adequate Yearly Progress if the school—or subgroups of students within the school—did not meet the participation rate requirement. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides states with greater flexibility to determine how to incorporate the participation rate into the state’s accountability system. However, in proposed regulations, the state will need to take certain actions such as lowering the school’s rating in the state’s accountability system or identifying the school for targeted support or improvement, if all students or one or more student subgroups do not meet the 95% participation rate.
Michelle Croft is a principal research associate in Public Affairs at ACT. Richard Lee is a senior analyst in Public Affairs at ACT.
This report highlights significant investments made by both Republican and Democratic policymakers in state-funded pre-k programs for the fourth year in a row. In the 2015-16 budget year, 32 states and the District of Columbia raised funding levels of pre-k programs. This increased support for preschool funding came from both sides of the aisle–22 states with Republican governors and 10 states with Democratic governors, plus the District of Columbia.
In contrast, only five states with Republican governors and three states with Democratic governors decreased their pre-k funding.
Overall, state funding of pre-k programs across the 50 states and the District of Columbia increased by nearly $755 million, or 12 percent over 2014-15. While this progress is promising, there is still work to be done to set children on the path to academic success early in life. Still, less than half of preschool-aged students have access to pre-k programs.
Increasing the number of students in high-quality preschool programs is broadly viewed as a way to set young learners on a path to a secure economic future and stable workforce. This report includes several state examples and an overview of the pre-k programs they have in place. Data tables on total state pre-K funding and state pre-kindergarten funding by program are appended. [Megan Carolan contributed to this publication.]
CHICAGO – On April 30, hundreds of libraries across the country will celebrate Día, a national library program that fosters literacy for all children from all backgrounds. Demographic projections show more than half of the country’s children will be part of a minority race or ethnic group in the next few years, and programs such as Día play a critical role in helping meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population, while also fueling cultural understanding and acceptance.
Educators say literacy depends on children’s desire to read. Through Día, libraries and librarians are using their expertise to nurture literacy by providing children access to and awareness of books that reflect their culture, heritage and language. Día events and activities have ranged from providing reading materials to children who are unaccompanied minors in detention centers and hosting bilingual story times for immigrant families from Somalia to visiting underserved communities on a bookmobile with book giveaways and fun crafts.
This year, libraries are planning a variety of Día celebrations that support inclusion, diversity and equity, including a show with Japanese drumming and storytelling in Los Angeles, a performance of traditional dances from Mexico and Spain in Broomfield, Colo.; and multicultural games and educational activities based on books from the Association for Library Service to Children’s 2017 Building STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) with Día Booklists in Portland, Ore.
For the last five years, libraries focused on engaging African-American children and families have received Día grants from through the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature to purchase books. This year’s grant winners include a library in Idaho Falls, Idaho, where students will research inspiring African-American authors and a library in Sharon, Pa., will present a program on the important contributions of African-American writers.
“Libraries provide opportunities to serve as mirrors to reflect those within the community and as windows to provide opportunities to learn about people from other cultures and backgrounds.,” said Andrew Medlar, past president of the Association for Library Service to Children. “Through Día, libraries and librarians are transforming lives and communities by offering services and programs that challenge intolerance and cultural invisibility.”
Día, also known as El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day) is a commitment to include and celebrate a variety of cultures every day, year-round, culminating annually on April 30. Día recognizes and respects culture, heritage and language as powerful tools for strengthening families and communities.
Día booklists, coloring sheets, an interactive map of participating libraries and other resources can be found at http://dia.ala.org.
The Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, is the national home for Día and the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking (REFORMA) and acclaimed children’s author Pat Mora are founding partners of the initiative. Día is an enhancement of Children’s Day, which started in 1925 and was designated as a day to bring attention to the importance and well-being of children. In 1996, Mora proposed linking the celebration of childhood and children with literacy to found Día.
Passed in December 2015, ESSA covers a plethora of topics — from testing and student achievement to teacher quality indexes to school accountability metrics. The successor to the No Child Left Behind law is widely seen as a shift toward federalism. State superintendent Sherri Ybarra, a longtime backer of ESSA, says the law “returns a great deal of authority to schools and school districts and states.”
Even so, the compliance plans are critical, because they require states to spell out their strategies for implementing ESSA.
Idaho’s ESSA plan is not yet a done deal. The State Board will review the document in June, board spokesman Blake Youde said. The governor’s office will review the document as well, and the public will have a chance to comment on the plan this summer. The plan will come before the State Board in August for final approval, Youde said.
But one key component of the ESSA plan will be in place in the next few months.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has stirred the pot with her continued advocacy for school choice since taking over the Education Department nearly two months ago. A lot of the discussion has been about how DeVos and President Donald Trump might push for vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, and expanded charter schools. But there’s another option open to DeVos that’s specifically supported in the Every Student Succeeds Act, but often flies under the radar when choice is discussed.
This week, the Andrew half of Politics K-12 teamed up with Curriculum Matters blogger Liana Loewus to look at course choice, also known as course access. We reported on a relatively new Idaho program called Fast Forward, in which each student in grades 7-12 gets $4,125 to spend on approved courses for high school, as well as those that are credit-bearing for college…