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Trump Ed. Dept. Critiques Idaho's ESSA Plan

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The U.S. Department of Education is almost done critiquing states' Every Student Succeeds Act plans. In fact, Idaho, which received a letter from the department on Dec. 27, is the second to last state to get a response. (The lone state still waiting: South Carolina, which turned in its plan late for weather related reasons).

Like the other thirty-two states that have gotten feedback so far this winter, Idaho has a long list of things to work on. For instance:

•Idaho is planning to create a "minority children" subgroup  that combines six different groups of students. Civil rights groups say that combining subgroups that way masks achievement gaps. And the department says they are an ESSA no-no if states try to use those "super subgroups" on their own for accountability.

•Idaho doesn't have a clear method of measuring English proficiency and incorporating it into its accountability system. That's not Kosher under ESSA, the department says. (Florida has a similar issue.)

•Idaho needs to be more specific about how it will identify schools where subgroups of students are consistently low-performing.

Quick refresher: Sixteen states and the District of Columbia turned in ESSA plans in the spring. So far, all of them have been approved, except Colorado. The other 34 states submitted plans this fall. And all of them have gotten feedback, except of course, the Palmetto State. You can read all of the feedback letters here. Nearly every state had a lot to improve. 

How seriously are states supposed to take these letters? That's not clear. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos greenlighted some state plans submitted this fall, even if states didn't make changes the department asked for. 


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