NYS readies ESSA plan for feds

by Cathy Woodruff

On Board Online • July 24, 2017

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

The state Board of Regents is getting closer to sending the state's Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) school accountability plan to the federal government before a Sept. 18 deadline.

The 201-page plan refers to the "important role that locally elected school boards have in improving student outcomes" and pledges that the state will provide boards with "critical data ... to spearhead improvement and promote equity both within districts and between districts."

The draft document also discusses other potential changes involving boards: "In addition, the Board of Regents has expressed a need for additional training and support to be provided school boards in carrying out their critical functions. The Board of Regents has previously advocated for legislative proposals that would allow the department to take steps to intervene when school boards are struggling to ensure that the basic educational needs are being met."

The ESSA plan has undergone multiple revisions since a first draft was released in May and continues to be revised. "We are studying this document, line by line, and comparing it with a prior version," said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer.

According to the State Education Department, the latest changes include a commitment to add out-of-school suspensions to the measures of school quality and success, starting with the 2018-19 school year. Previously, the plan was to collect data on suspensions for state use but not yet report that information to the federal government for accountability purposes.

The newest draft also accelerates use of a new measurement of middle school students' success and readiness for high school. The goal is to provide a greater incentive for school and district leaders to improve middle school programs.

As On Board went to press, State Education Department officials were preparing to formally submit a copy to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. While the governor has 30 days to review the draft, his approval is not required before it is submitted to the federal government.

"We still anticipate that there will be some changes - minimal, because the governor's office has been very involved," Elia told reporters. She said SED may continue to revise the document up to the deadline to "clarify some things." Read the document at: goo.gl/9WVRLo . An SED summary is here: goo.gl/kMUtRN .

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