ESSA: Updates from DESE

Included at the Board's regular meeting this month, was a summary of the Department's stakeholder outreach(1) from 5 Community Forums and the impact of ESSA's(2) final accountability regulations issued by the US Department of Education (US/ED) this past November.

DESE sought feedback from a broad spectrum of stakeholders on a number of ESSA-related areas. Their preliminary analysis of more than 1,500 ideas for accountability indicators appears to (somewhat) edit and reorganize the previous list the Board received at the September Board meeting. At Community Forums, DESE received feedback* to build on:

  • Modifications to the accountability system
    • Broad support for accountability metrics that:
      • Measure school climate
      • Ensure students participate in a high quality, well-rounded curriculum
  • Programming to provide safe and supportive schools and well-rounded programs of study
    • Broad support for programs that:
      • Provide students with social/emotional/behavioral supports
      • Provide educators with skills to attend to students' social/emotional/behavioral needs
  • Programming to promote equitable access to high quality educators

Final regulations on accountability data for state plans were issued by US/ED on November 29, 2016. The Department is in the process of digesting all 1,100+ pages of that document by January 24, 2017, when the DRAFT State plan will come before the Board. Five accountability components are required:
    1. Academic achievement: based on annual assessments in ELA, Maths, and Science
    2. A measure of student growth or progress for elementary and middle schools
    3. Graduation rates for high schools
    4. Progress in achieving English proficiency for English language learners
    5. At lease one measure of school quality or student success

Under ESSA, states, districts, and schools must establish "ambitious state-designed long-term goals" and measures of interim progress, for all students and subgroups, including a focus on gap closing. Several regulation changes were noted in the presentation (changes in italics):
    • First submission of the State's plan is now April 3, 2017 -- changed from March 3, 2017
    • Identification of schools in need of Comprehensive (CSI) and Targeted (TSI) support is to be completed prior to SY2018-19 -- changed from SY2017-18
    • ESSA maintains the 95% assessment participation requirement, but provides calculation options
    • Quantifiable state goals - based on proficiency - are explicitly required as part of the ESSA state plan
    • A 4-year comprehensive graduation rate must be used for selecting high schools with a graduation rate below 67% -- has removed some flexibility
    • Super subgroups are high needs subgroups that include students who are English language learners (ELL), students with disabilities (SWD), and students who are economically disadvantaged. According to the final regs, super subgroups cannot replace an individual subgroup -- DESE plans to submit each subgroup separately and as a super subgroup
    • Students who were former ELL and SWD may be included in annual accountability determinations for up to four years (ELLs) and for up to two years (SWD)
    • Concrete funding requirements for CSI ($500K) and TSI ($50K) have been removed.

Next steps:
  • January: At the Board's meeting (in Bridgewater), we'll be presented with a proposed model that incorporates feedback received from the field
  • February: Revised model, based on feedback from BESE and the field
  • March: Final review of proposed model with Board
  • April: Submit ESSA state plan to US/ED
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(1). In developing the new state accountability plan, final US/ED regulations identify 16 categories of stakeholders who must be consulted: the governor, members of the state legislature, members of the state board of education, local education agencies, representatives of Indian tribes, teachers, principals, other school leaders, charter school leaders, parents and families, community-based organizations, institutions of higher education, employers, representatives of private school students, early childhood educators and leaders, and the public.

(2). Info on ESSA is housed on EOE's website.

*DESE's survey on suggested ESSA accountability indicators is still open: