Ybarra releases latest draft of Idaho’s ESSA compliance plan

Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra on Monday quietly released the latest draft of the state’s plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

Ybarra also opened a 40-day public comment period. Idahoans can review the draft and leave feedback online through July 30.

The new document marks the sixth draft of Idaho’s compliance plan.

Ybarra’s State Department of Education posted the new draft on its website, along with a brief summary of changes from previous drafts. The SDE did not send out a news release announcing the unveiling of the document or the start of the public comment window until Tuesday morning.

Ybarra and the State Board of Education face a Sept. 18 deadline to submit the plan to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education. The State Board is expected to consider the plan during its August meeting.

The Every Student Succeeds Act replaced the No Child Left Behind education law, and directs control and oversight of public schools away from the federal government and toward the states.

Each state is required to submit a detailed plan to comply with ESSA in order to receive federal funding for disadvantaged students. At least 17 states submitted plans in the spring.

Idaho’s plan must also include a new public school accountability system, which the 2017 Legislature approved. State leaders repealed the previous five-star rating system in 2014, and Idaho has not had an accountability plan at any point under Ybarra’s watch.

The latest draft of the ESSA plan is 76 pages long, and includes Idaho’s plans for spending $83 million in federal funding.

The feds require the plans also spell out how state leaders and educators will identify and then work to improve their lowest performing schools.

According to an SDE summary, the new draft reworks several components, such as:

  • Revising school quality and student success indicators.
  • Recognizing the top 10 percent of high performing schools.
  • Defining what constitutes an ineffective teacher.
  • Completing the process for identifying low-performing schools.
  • Changing data reporting requirements.

Last week, leaders of the Idaho Education Association and the Idaho School Boards Association, wrote a letter to Gov. Butch Otter and State Board members saying they had been excluded from helping draft the ESSA plan and felt disrespected by Ybarra’s SDE. Another education group, the Idaho Association of School Administrators, did not sign the letter because members felt they were represented in the process.

States are required to comply with ESSA beginning with the upcoming 2017-18 school year.

Click here to read the latest draft of Idaho’s ESSA compliance plan. 

Check back with Idaho Education News later on Tuesday for more on this developing story.