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Trump Education Dept. Responds to Colorado's ESSA Plan


It's official! U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos' team has offered feedback on all seventeen Every Student Succeeds Act plans that have been released so far. The last one on the list was Colorado, whose letter was posted publicly Monday. 

If you've been reading other states' ESSA feedback, the list of things that Colorado needs to address shouldn't come as a shocker. The Centennial State must:

• Rework its student achievement goals and academic achievement indicator so that they are based on straight up proficiency rates, not scale scores. Other states, including Massachusetts and Vermont have gotten similar feedback. There's a great explanation of this overall issue from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute here.

• The state needs to do a better job of explaining how graduation rates and English-language proficiency—two required elements of ESSA plans—will figure into school ratings.

• The state needs to make sure that its proficiency rates include students whose parents decide to opt them out of standardized tests.

Reminder: So far, sixteen states and the District of Columbia have turned in their ESSA plans, and four have been approved, including Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, and New Mexico. The other 34 states will submit their plans next month.

The department recently changed its process for providing feedback. At first, the department sent letters to states letting them know where their ESSA plans needed to be improved. But then the agency got pushback for going overboard with state feedback. So the department tweaked its process, first calling states to go over any trouble spots. If a state is able to address a particular concern on a phone call, it might not be reflected in its official letter from the department.  

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