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Betsy DeVos Approves Arizona's ESSA Plan


Arizona is the 14th state to get the U.S. Department of Education's seal of approval on its plan to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced Wednesday.

In its feedback to the state, the Education Department had told Arizona that it needed to move science testing to a different part of its accountability system. (That's something a lot of states were told, more on that issue here.) And it said Arizona needed to better explain how it would penalize schools where fewer than 95 percent of students take standardized tests.

Former Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., questioned in a commentary for Education Week whether a new Arizona law, which would give schools a choice of tests to use from grade 3 on, beginning in the 2019-20 school year, was consistent with ESSA. He called on the department to make sure that Arizona and other states test every child in grades 3 through 8, and once in high school using the same test. The new state testing law isn't mentioned in Arizona's ESSA plan.

And an independent review by the Collaborative for Student Success and Bellwether Education Partners found that Arizona's plan lacked key details, including when it comes to how historically overlooked subgroups of students will figure into its accountability system.

For those keeping score at home: Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have submitted their ESSA plans. All of those states have gotten initial feedback from the department. And 12 other states—Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont—plus the District of Columbia have gotten the thumbs up on their plans.

The remaining 34 states will submit their plans by Sept. 18.  

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