Idaho’s ESSA draft plan isn’t done yet, but it’s close

The State Department of Education is about to slide its homework under the door just minutes before it’s due.

Officials said Idaho’s draft plan for complying with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act would be completed in October. As of Oct. 31 at 2 p.m. there is “still quite a bit of work to do to solidify the draft,” said department spokesman Jeff Church.

But he promised the draft will be completed in time for its first public hearing — 6 p.m. on Tuesday in Blackfoot.

“They are still working on some of the bits and pieces,” Church said.

He also said to expect the draft plan to be posted on the department’s website late Monday or Tuesday but it will be officially unveiled in Blackfoot, during a two-hour, open-to-the-public meeting. Officials will start the meeting by introducing the draft plan with a PowerPoint so attendees will have some understanding of what’s in it. Then officials will look to attendees for feedback, Church said.

The Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law in December 2015 and replaces the controversial No Child Left Behind Act. The new law is different in that it pushes oversight and accountability of public schools away from the federal government and toward the states. Idaho must submit a final compliance plan to the U.S. Department of Education by March 2017.

The plan is supposed to address a number of education topics ranging from school accountability to testing and teacher training to the education of English language learners and disadvantaged students. The plan is required to identify low-performing schools and a means for improvement.

Church said all stakeholders — educators, taxpayers, trustees and parents — will have plenty of time to offer input on the draft plan. One way is to attend one of five forums over the next nine days in five different Idaho towns. Or, Idahoans can submit comments online.

“We will be as inclusive as possible over the next several months,” Church said. “This is the first draft and we’re expecting to have second, third, fourth and so-on drafts as we work with stakeholders. If you haven’t been involved to this point, we want you to be involved.”

State department officials hosted several committee meetings over the summer and included a long list of participants to gain ideas for writing the draft plan. Click here for more details on the sub committees and the members.

Forum schedule (all events run from 6 -8 p.m. local time)

  • Nov. 1: Blackfoot School District, Blackfoot Performing Arts Center, 870 S. Fisher St., Blackfoot.
  • Nov. 2: Jerome Joint School District Office, Administrative Conference Room, 125 Fourth Avenue West, Jerome.
  • Nov. 3: King Fine Arts Center Little Theater, adjacent to the Cassia County Joint School District Office, 1 Bobcat Boulevard. Burley.
  • Nov. 7: Moscow Middle School, Room 108, 1410 E. D St., Moscow.
  • Nov. 9: Canyon Springs High School, Caldwell School District, 516 N. 11th Ave., Caldwell.

State’s timeline and deadlines for complying with ESSA

  • October 2016: The SDE is to complete its draft of Idaho’s state plan.
  • November 2016: Public forums (see schedule above).
  • December 2016: The State Board of Education is expected to vote on whether to approve the state’s ESSA plan.
  • February or March 2017: SDE officials will review feedback; incorporate any relevant changes into the state plan and then, potentially, resubmit it to the State Board of Education for final state-level approval.
  • March 2017: Deadline to submit the state plan to the U.S. Department of Education.