Idaho working toward September ESSA deadline

States had the chance to choose one of two deadlines to submit their in-depth plans to follow new federal education law.

Idaho opted for the late deadline.

The state will submit its Every Student Succeeds Act compliance plan by September. The first deadline, April 3, has come and gone. The second deadline is Sept. 18.

Passed in December 2015, ESSA covers a plethora of topics — from testing and student achievement to teacher quality indexes to school accountability metrics. The successor to the No Child Left Behind law is widely seen as a shift toward federalism. State superintendent Sherri Ybarra, a longtime backer of ESSA, says the law “returns a great deal of authority to schools and school districts and states.”

Even so, the compliance plans are critical, because they require states to spell out their strategies for implementing ESSA.

Idaho’s ESSA plan is not yet a done deal. The State Board will review the document in June, board spokesman Blake Youde said. The governor’s office will review the document as well, and the public will have a chance to comment on the plan this summer. The plan will come before the State Board in August for final approval, Youde said.

But one key component of the ESSA plan will be in place in the next few months.

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Even though Idaho might not submit its ESSA plan until September — and the start of another school year — the new accountability metric will still go into effect for 2017-18. State lawmakers approved the accountability metric earlier this year.

The accountability metric is significant, because the state repealed its much-maligned five-star school rating system in 2014 and has not replaced it during Ybarra’s 27 months in office.

Idaho’s road to ESSA compliance has had some rough patches.

Last November, educators and education groups accused Ybarra’s State Department of Education of pushing forward on a plan without considering public input. At the time, states were facing a March submission deadline. In late November, the feds backed off, and gave states their choice of deadlines.

Idaho’s decision to opt for the later deadline puts the state in the majority. According to the U.S. Department of Education, only 19 states and the District of Columbia opted for the April deadline.