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Betsy DeVos Greenlights ESSA Plans for Connecticut, Louisiana

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Add two more plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act to the "approved" pile: Connecticut and Louisiana. The states become the fifth and sixth to be approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

Connecticut's plan was approved even though it didn't make some big changes that the feds wanted to see, including when it comes to calculating student achievement and measuring the performance of English-language learners.

Instead of making the revisions the department suggested, Connecticut provided long explanations of why the state thought its approach was permissible under ESSA. 

For instance, the department told Connecticut, along with Massachusetts and Colorado, that average scale scores can't be used to demonstrate a school's academic achievement under ESSA. But Connecticut insisted that average scale scores are the best way to measure student progress.

In order to get the department's seal of approval, Louisiana decided to use social studies and science tests to measure school quality and student success. The Pelican State had originally wanted to use a brand new "interest and opportunity" indicator that would look at whether students are getting access to things like arts and physical education classes. The department, though, worried that the indicator wouldn't be ready for prime-time by the 2017-18 school year when ESSA is supposed to be fully in place. Louisiana will keep working on the new indicator, but has dropped it from its plan, for now. Louisiana also moved student growth for high schools to another part of its accountability system, and clarified how it will measure English-language proficiency.

Reminder: So far, 16 states and the District of Columbia have turned in plans to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act. All of those states have received feedback from the department, and six have been approved. The remaining 34 states will submit their plans next month.


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