During August, thirteen policy analysts published reports about what occurred in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia.
ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act)
Delaware: Zoi Philippakos shared the Approval of ESSA Plan for Delaware with “an ambitious and rigorous plan addressing graduation rates, ELA and math goals, and English Language Learners.”
Louisiana: Jalissa Bates also reported that Louisiana’s ESSA plan was approved.
Montana: Anna Baldwin described Montana’s ESSA Plan as relying on test scores and emphasizing graduation rates and school quality. Anna describes the disconnect over the treatment of English language learners and the bottom 5% of schools.
Ohio: In her Status Update on ESSA Implementation, Robin Holland relayed that after review by Governor Kasich, Ohio will submit its ESSA application to the US Department of Education in September.
Texas: In her ESSA Update, Teri Lesesne noted that despite stakeholders emphasizing critical thinking, raising salaries, and funding as important, the plan under review “relies on the same old, same old measures of ‘excellence,’ namely, test scores.”
Vermont: Anne Slonaker listed the additional information and revisions that the US Department of Education requested of Vermont.
Virginia: Leila Christenbury described the Accountability Plan Proposed for Struggling Virginia Schools as “far less draconian and also less prescriptive than previous Virginia-recommended school interventions.”
California: Laurie Stowell presented both sides of the Assembly Bill to delay middle and high school start times, concluding that if it passed, California would be the first to legislate statewide school start times.
Pennsylvania: Aileen Hower reported on the introduction of a bill to expand Pennsylvania’s Education Savings Account (ESA) program to provide funding for low-income students at private schools. She then provided a rebuttal by critics who claim that ESAs are “just vouchers by another name.” Aileen shared that Governor Tom Wolf announced a reduction in PSSA testing.
Texas: Teri Lesesne shared that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has created a new “parent portal” that provides information about the state test (STAAR) and Lexiles. She referred to Shona Rose’s blog post describing her phone call with TEA about the writing portion of STAAR. Teri also reported that school finance would wait two years until the Texas legislature convenes again.
California: Referring to the 2017 IES report, Carol Olson highlighted that “context (e.g., type of institution, SAT/ACT scores, age, and race) matters when it comes to remaining enrolled or graduating from programs.”
Florida: Jeffrey Kaplan delineated the struggle in Florida over Online Higher Education, with the governor wanting to expand the number of students taking virtual courses and legislators viewing such an expansion as detrimental to Florida having an “elite” higher education system.
New Mexico: Kate Mangelsdorf noted that New Mexico is “one of ten states in the country with the highest reductions in spending per student in higher education,” even though the “value . . . for students in New Mexico remains high.” She continued that Budget Cuts Affect University Writing Programs, with fewer students being served and successful initiatives being curtailed.
Both PreK–12 and Higher Education
Connecticut: In English Language Learners in Connecticut, Stephen Ferruci described the challenges that English language learners face in light of new ESSA requirements. He referenced H.B. 3865 that would have required bilingual education, but was never brought up on the floor, and a study concluding that dual-language programs are successful. He raised concerns over Connecticut loosening requirements for certification and employing the “use of the Relay Graduate School of Education, a program that fast-tracks certification . . . and . . . that has been rejected by Connecticut’s Board of Higher Education.”
New Mexico: Kate Mangelsdorf provided an Educational Equity Court Case Update regarding the lawsuit filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty claiming that ELL, Native American, and low-income students were not receiving the “educational opportunities guaranteed by the New Mexico Constitution.”