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Here Are Interactive Highlights From the First Round of State ESSA Plans


The initial round of state plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act is in the books, and we now know proposed ESSA blueprints from 15 states and the District of Columbia. Wondering what's in them? We can help.

Click here to see an interactive presentation of states' ESSA plans in six key policy areas. We highlight what states want to do with respect to goals, school ratings, academic indicators, school quality, the minimum "n"-size for which subgroups of students at a school must be included in accountability calculations, and testing opt-outs. 

As we've discussed before, in a few areas of the graphic we don't have much to share because the state didn't really tell us anything. Massachusetts, for example, didn't lay out any long-term academic goals because it told the U.S. Department of Education that it doesn't have baseline test scores on which to base such goals. (The department nevertheless told the Bay State that its plan was incomplete.) Here are a few other trends or highlights we noticed:

  • More than one state wants to use different n-sizes for different circumstances. Michigan wants to use a smaller n-size (10 students) for English-language learners than it does for all other student groups (30 students). Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley doesn't like that idea, by the way. And Colorado wants to use a smaller n-size (16) for academic achievement and graduation rate measures than that used for growth (20). 
  • There's a diverse set of plans for dealing with low test-participation rates. New Jersey intends to stick with ESSA's statutory language, but not impose its own set of penalties on schools for missing the 95 percent participation barrier. But Nevada would impose an escalating set of penalties on a school for missing the 95 percent participation mark, including a lower school rating.
  • Four states plan to use either "student engagement" or school climate surveys as their indicator of school quality under ESSA, including one of the last states to submit in the first round, North Dakota. Researchers have linked positive school climates to improved academic outcomes, but properly measuring school climate can be very complicated

Below is a sample from the ESSA interactive presentation focusing on Colorado:


The remaining 35 states are slated to submit their ESSA plans in September. States such as California, New York, and Wisconsin have released draft ESSA plans for public review.  

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