The ESSA School Bells Are Ringing and There’s No Sign of Florida

States begin submitting their plans for Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) today, but I have no clue what’s happening with Florida’s. The ESSA plan tells the Department of Education (DOE) how we intend to measure student achievement and school performance. It is the roadmap for school accountability. And, Florida has a lot of latitude to change things.

It’s unsettling to not know what my state is up to. The DOE has relaxed their controls which makes the educational decisions made in Tallahassee all the more important.

The federal education agency has made it crystal clear they will be removing “roadblocks” and taking a back-seat to education decisions made by states. And today, education secretary Betsy DeVos reiterated to states that “the Department to get out of your way and let you do your job.”

Yet, Florida’s ESSA information, which should be available for general consumption, is strangely missing.

I hope we are doing our jobs.

ESSA silence is scary silence.

Parents should not be left in the cold with little information while our fate rests in the hands of education officials at the capital.

With the first window of submission currently open, states have until May 3rd to officially submit their plan to the DOE, so long as their plan goes to their governor today.

The other option is submitting the plan later in September, which would then put us well into the start of the school year. Efforts to implement any new approaches for the 2017-18 calendar year would obviously be handicapped by this later approval timeline.

From the radio silence, I’m going to presume Florida is in the second round.

But, regardless of the chosen submission date, if Florida does in fact have a plan, or a semblance of one (which I’m sure it does), why don’t we know about it? Is this a sneek-peek into what’s to come?

Is this Florida’s definition of “being accountable to those they serve?”

Signs from the rest of the country.

The rest of the country has been pretty busy. Reports so far show some states are ready to go, some have made big changes, while others are still disagreeing on the plan:

  • 18 states will submit a plan this month
  • D.C., New Mexico, Nevada, Massachusetts and Louisiana have all decided to stick with the use of a summative school rating. But other states have dumped the idea of giving schools a performance grade.
  • Tennessee is leaning into measuring how many students are taking Advanced Placement classes, and industry credentials and certifications.
  • Louisiana voted to submit their ESSA plan now, reports Education Post editor Lane Wright, to immediately correct a great wrong: school grades inaccurately reflecting the under-education happening in LA schools.

Being in the room

Parents want to and should be informed about developments in ESSA. There is concern from other advocates around the country that communities are being left out of decision-making rooms.

If we do get in the room, EdWeek suggests 6 questions we should be asking our state about their ESSA plan for our babies. Everything from understanding how school quality and student success will be measured, to academic indicators and the approach to testing is on the table.

So, where are you Florida? My questions are ready.

I’m sure you have a plan; working feverishly in closed conference rooms with data and legislative language flying all about. Let us in on the secret. Accountability is important to us, and it feels as if we are starting off on the wrong foot.

What do you think?


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