ESSA plans for Minnesota and West VA approved by ED

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    January 11, 2018

    The US Dept. of ED approved the ESSA plans submitted by Minnesota and West Virginia on Jan. 10, 2018. Press release at https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/secretary-devos-approves-minnesota-and-west-virginias-state-essa-plans

    Minnesota’s plan was criticized by state lawmakers (see https://www.twincities.com/2017/10/31/betsy-devos-should-reject-mn-essa-plan-republicans-say/) and also received harsh feedback by ED’s peer reviewers who stated the following regarding MN’s plan to use “counter groups” in addition to the student subgroups required by ESSA: “All four reviewers noted that MN’s use of “counter-groups” for historically-underserved students (students with disabilities, economically-disadvantaged students, and English learners) is deliberately counter to the goal of equity and to the purpose of subgroup accountability.” (page 8 of document at https://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplan17/mnpanelnotes.pdf). An independent review team also found this as a major weakness, stating: The state will be including higher-performing groups in the accountability system, what the state calls “counter groups,” such as students without disabilities and non-low-income students, which could lessen the impact of its focus on historically underserved groups of students.” (see https://checkstateplans.org/states/minnesota/)

    West Virginia’s plan was also called out in the independent review “West Virginia’s plan assesses school and student performance using a confusing point system that ignores subgroup underperformance and achievement gaps.” (see https://checkstateplans.org/states/west-virginia/). Peer reviewers noted the impact of a lower N size, saying “The state’s plan does not sufficiently provide a convincing perspective on the selection of 20 as an N-size that will ‘provide more stable and reliable results and instill greater confidence in performance outcomes over time’. The number of schools included in accountability would double for the multiple race subgroup and significantly increase for the English learner and Children with Disabilities subgroups if the state’s selection of N-size was 10.” (page 12 of document at https://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/stateplan17/wvpanelnotes.pdf).

    Candace Cortiella
    The Advocacy Institute

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