State gets low marks from nonprofit on student success plan


California still needs to make some improvements on its draft plan to meet the expectations of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), according to a report from non-profit nonpartisan groups.

Although the state has a proposal, it’s unclear how the plan will be measured and included into an overall measurement of quality.

The report—created by Bellwether Education Partners and the Collaborative for Student Success with 30 education policy experts—evaluated the state’s draft plan sent to the U.S. Department of Education in August.

It found that, although the state had an effective way of setting academic goals and using high-quality assessments, it did not describe a way to measure student progress and growth system and identify and support low-performing schools through its accountability system.

The Every Student Succeeds Act is a new education law signed by President Obama Dec. 10, 2015.  ESSA replaces the No Child Left Behind Act, enacted in 2002, and uses evidence-based interventions to improve student outcomes and hold schools accountable.

Using nine measures of review, the report rates California’s draft plan by giving it a score of one to five in each category, with five being the highest.

Overall the plan received low scores in six of nine categories with scores of one or two.

Areas where the plan received a score of one evaluated the plan’s approach to measure academic progress over time and to identify schools for comprehensive and targeted support.

A concern cited by the nonprofit group was the new California School Dashboard, an accountability system that measures performance on a five-color system that released in March.

“The state’s proposal for a ‘dashboard’ accountability system will include important information about school and student performance, but it is unclear how it will be measured and incorporated into an overall measure of school quality,” the report read.

The report also expressed concern that the accountability model and student growth measure may not “capture individual improvement over time” because it will be comparing year-to-year changes in test scores.

“Rather than measuring student growth, it may simply point out that a school’s current group of students is different from past cohorts,” the report read.

California also received lower scores for the achievability of its goals, the evaluation of all student subgroups, the comprehensive and targeted interventions for low-performing schools and the exiting procedures for schools who met their performance criteria.

However, the draft ESSA plan was commended for its assessments with an accountability system aligned to college and career readiness.

It was praised for the use of the Common Core Standards for math and English language arts, the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) system and the California Science Tests (CAST) for the Next Generation Science Standards.

“California provided a detailed description of its accommodations for English language learners, particularly Spanish-speaking students,” the report read.

Overall the plan aims to prepare students “to thrive in a multicultural, multilingual and connected world” though its standards and academic goals.

The report did note that it was reviewing the draft of California’s ESSA plan and that improvements and changes could be made before its final submission later this year.

“Given the size of California’s student population and its diversity, we felt that feedback on California’s plan is important in not only strengthening the state’s final submission but also providing information for other states still writing their plans,” the report read of its interim review of the ESSA Plan.

The groups also intends on conducting a second review California’s ESSA plan following its final submission in mid-September.

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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