Secretary DeVos Approves Alabama, Colorado and Kentucky’s ESSA State Plans

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Secretary DeVos Approves Alabama, Colorado and Kentucky’s ESSA State Plans

May 7, 2018

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today announced the approval of the Alabama, Colorado and Kentucky consolidated state plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

"I am pleased to approve these plans which comply with the requirements of the law," said Secretary DeVos. "I encourage states to use their plans as a starting point, rather than a finish line, to improve outcomes for all students."

Allowing states more flexibility in how they deliver education to students is at the core of ESSA. Each state crafted a plan that it feels will best offer educational opportunities to meet the needs of the state and its students.

ALABAMA

The following are some of the unique elements from Alabama's approved plan as highlighted by the state:

  • Alabama requires the State Superintendent of Education to develop a school grading system reflective of school and district performance and to create the Legislative School Performance Recognition Program. The state will use state-authorized assessments and other key performance indicators that give a total profile of the school or school system, or both.
  • Alabama will work with local education agencies (LEAs) to enhance early learning and improve coordination and alignment of early learning programs from birth through third grade.

"Alabama's plan builds a solid foundation and gives us a springboard from which to launch important improvement initiatives including the governor's Strong Start, Strong Finish program," said Alabama State Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey. "By incorporating high academic standards and clear expectations with plans for greater student engagement and achievement, Alabama stands ready to meet the rigorous demands of preparing students for the work force and for their roles as citizens in our democratic system. We are honored to have our plan approved, and now we go to work on its implementation."

COLORADO

The following are some of the unique elements from Colorado's approved plan as highlighted by the state:

  • Colorado created the ESSA Application for School Improvement (EASI), a one-stop process for LEAs with schools identified for Comprehensive and Targeted Support and Improvement to access services and funding specifically tailored to the unique needs of each identified school.
  • Colorado is establishing an aligned, tiered system of grants performance management with a focus on continuous academic improvement and equitable access for all students, particularly historically underserved students.
  • Colorado's ESSA plan reaffirms the state's longstanding commitment to a rich, balanced and well-rounded education for all students by ensuring that professional development and other support for schools and teachers will continue to focus on all content areas.

"We are pleased that our plan is approved," said Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes."We have used this process to re-engage with many of our schools, districts and stakeholders across the state over the last two years to get feedback on how our current education system is working.The conversations were deep and very helpful to the department and other stakeholders as we work collectively to leverage ESSA to improve outcomes for our highest need students in Colorado."

KENTUCKY

The following are some of the unique elements from Kentucky's approved plan as highlighted by the state:

  • Kentucky's plan includes ambitious interim and long-term goals on which to measure progress including increasing academic achievement significantly for all students; cutting the achievement gap for each student group in half by 2030; and increasing the graduation rate significantly for all students and each student group.
  • Under the plan, 2017-18 will be a transition year whereby performance on the indicators for which data is available will be used to determine low-performing schools and whether targeted support and improvement (TSI) or comprehensive support and improvement (CSI) will be provided.
  • The system will be fully implemented in the 2018-19 school year when performance on all of the indicators will combine and lead to a one to five-star designation for a school or district. A school with significant achievement gaps will be disqualified from earning the highest ratings.

"Schools and districts will be held to a higher level of accountability under this plan. Raising the bar is essential if Kentucky is to make the strides in student performance that we intend to make," Interim Commissioner Wayne Lewis said. "I am most excited about the unprecedented focus on closing Kentucky's achievement gaps, emphasis on students' readiness for success in careers and postsecondary education and a much more transparent and easy to understand rating system for schools."