Department of Education Approves Colorado’s ESSA State Plan
Just this week the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) approved Colorado’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State Plan. Colorado was one of the first states in the nation to submit its state plan just over a year ago. However, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) received feedback from the USDOE in August and September of last year stating that there were several areas in the plan that required further clarification, including measures of student achievement, long term goals and interim targets.
The USDOE didn’t approve of Colorado’s original plan for handling opt-outs, in part because the state has been reluctant to penalize schools with low test-participation rates. The draft plan stated that, if schools’ participation rate dipped below 95 percent, it would count non-test takers as “not proficient” for federal accountability purposes. This led to the state developing two different accountability systems for purposes of reporting to the USDOE.
The state plan received both praise and criticism from national and statewide groups. Colorado received praise for engagement with multiple stakeholders in the almost two-year process, for strong rationale regarding its content standards, for its plan to support schools with a wide range of interventions, and for its inclusion of more students in its accountability system by lowering the threshold at which Colorado includes subgroups for accountability and reporting purposes.
The plan did not, however, include recommendations from the Equity in Colorado Coalition, a broad coalition of education and civil rights advocates who outlined the importance of opportunities for family and community engagement, support for emerging multilingual students, and data reporting to name a few. The group continues to focus its energy on the implementation of the plan over the course of the next few months.
ESSA replaced the No Child Left Behind Act in December 2015 and aims to drive more equitable outcomes in the public education system. It provides Colorado with opportunities to reinforce its investment in ALL students, ensuring they have the opportunity to thrive.
Read more about ESSA state plans and how they fare here.