State Department proposes changes to ESSA plan

The State Department of Education has proposed changes to a federally mandated plan that outlines student progress goals and a statewide accountability system.

The proposals could impact the state’s long-term goals, student testing requirements and school quality evaluations.

SDE Director of Accountability Ayaka Nukui listed COVID-19 disruptions, content standards adjustments and legislative actions as reasons for the changes.

The Department is collecting feedback on most of the amendments until Sept. 23, after which the plan will go before the State Board of Education in October, and then head to the federal government for final approval.

Here are the major changes the SDE’s suggesting:

  • The long-term 2022 student achievement goals, which the state failed to meet last year, would be extended to 2023. Extending the standards, said Nukui, will provide more data for school evaluations after a pause during COVID-19, and give the SDE time to complete a standards alignment study after new content standards were approved July 1.
  • The mandated ISAT testing year would change from 10th grade to 11th grade. Juniors who took the ISAT in 10th grade and met the 11th grade proficiency scores will not have to retake the test, and 9th, 10th and 12th grade ISATs would be optional. Alternative testers will continue taking the ELA and Math IDAA tests in 10th grade until the Department develops an 11th grade test that is aligned to the content standards. Nukui said this change is one step toward the state’s goal to use the ISAT as a college entrance exam.
  • Student engagement surveys would be added back into the state’s school quality indicator after the Legislature rejected the State Board of Education’s proposal to replace the metric with chronic absenteeism.
  • Chronic absenteeism would also be added into the state’s school quality indicator for K-8, high schools and alternative high schools. This data, rather than student engagement data, will be used to evaluate K-8 schools.

Idaho’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Consolidated Plan was developed in 2017 and approved by the federal government in 2018.

It created a five-year student achievement plan, which was set to end in 2022. It included incremental, yearly goals for ISAT testing proficiency, reading scores, graduation rates, English proficiency, higher education and student engagement.

The plan set several ambitious long-term goals:

  • Improving the high school graduation rate to 95 percent, up from 79.7 percent in 2017.
  • Decreasing the number of students who are not proficient at English language arts and math by one third.
  • Decreasing the number of students who are not making progress toward English language proficiency by one third.

The state has failed to meet any of the goals outlined in the plan since its creation, according to EdNews’ Education Report Card, which has documented each year’s results and the corresponding state targets.

The plan also includes a school accountability system, which the SDE uses to identify the lowest performing schools and provide additional resources to help get them on track.

For the past two years, this system has not been used due to statewide COVID-19 disruptions that impacted testing, attendance and other metrics.

Sadie Dittenber

About Sadie Dittenber

Reporter Sadie Dittenber focuses on K-12 policy and politics. She is a College of Idaho graduate, born and raised in the Treasure Valley. You can follow Sadie on Twitter @sadiedittenber and send her news tips at [email protected]

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