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ExcelinEd Identifies Key Trends in New Analysis of ESSA State Plans

• ExcelinEd

Now that all 50 states and the District of Columbia have submitted their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans to the U.S. Department of Education, ExcelinEd has completed a landscape analysis of the nuts and bolts of these plans.

“It’s encouraging that in the majority of states, schools will earn summative ratings that are easily understandable for parents and can spur school improvement,” said Dr. Christy Hovanetz, ExcelinEd Senior Policy Fellow. “However, there are some concerns with many states planning to measure achievement using index systems – and growth using peer comparisons – rather than grade level expectations. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the plans can help advocates and policymakers support effective implementation of state plans.”

ExcelinEd identified the following key trends across the state ESSA plans:

  • Summative ratings: In 44 states and the District of Columbia, schools will earn a summative rating. In 14 of those states, schools will earn an A-F letter grade.
  • Student outcomes: In 32 states, student outcomes account for 80 percent or more of a school’s summative rating for elementary schools. In 22 states, it’s 90 percent or above.
  • Minimum N: All states plan to use a minimum N-size of 30 or less; 39 states and the District of Columbia plan to use 20 or less.
  • Measuring student growth: Although all but two states will measure individual student growth, fewer than half the states will incorporate criterion-based growth models that hold schools accountable for ensuring that students progress each year toward reaching proficient or advanced achievement before graduation.
  • Interventions: Most states lack a rigorous approach to school turnaround and fewer than half will use competitive grants to leverage federal school improvement fund

Dr. Hovanetz discussed the results of the analysis at her strategy session “Advancing Equity with ESSA: The Good, the Bad & the Wonky,” at the National Summit on Education Reform on Thursday, November 30. A video recording of the session will be available on ExcelinEd’s YouTube channel in December.

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