by Karen Meaney
October 9, 2018
All 50 states have approved plans for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act after the September approval of the fifth version of a plan from Florida by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
DeVos said the Florida approval marked a significant milestone in the implementation of the law. “As we move into the next phase, we look forward to working with states as they bring their plans on paper to life and use the flexibilities afforded in ESSA to innovate and improve educational opportunities for all students,” she said.
ESSA was signed into law in December 2015 as the first reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Allowing states more flexibility in how they deliver education to students is at the core of ESSA.
State implementation plans were due to the Department of Education by September 2017. As plans began to win approval, some common themes emerged: providing students with more personalized learning, graduating students who are ready to move on to college or career and improving achievement among lowest-performing students. Providing professional development and using dashboards to aggregate and report on school and district performance are other aspects seen across plans.
Issues that caused earlier versions of the Florida plan to be rejected included the desire on the part of Florida to keep an A-F school grading system in place that did not meet ESSA's requirement to take subgroup performance into account when identifying struggling schools. As the plan evolved, Florida added a separate index that will factor in performance of subgroups like English learners and will be used with the grading system to identify failing schools.
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