A lot of work has been going on with Pennsylvania’s ESSA plan and implementation.
Initially, changes were requested of Pennsylvania from the U.S. Department of Education. The revisions targeted how and when Pennsylvania would report the academic performance of English language learners. DeVos’s office wanted Pennsylvania to clarify how much academic factors like PSSAs, Access test results, and other standardized tests would be taken into account versus other factors like graduation rates, college readiness, and individual student growth. The state was also asked to clarify how it would identify the most underperforming subpopulations of students. Finally, Pennsylvania was told that it needed to improve how it explained how it will ensure that disadvantaged students receive their education from highly qualified educators.
Possibly due to the fact that the Secretary of Education, Pedro A. Rivera, has focused his work last year and this on creating a strong ESSA plan that addresses the federal requirements and supports the specific needs of Pennsylvania students, was an administrator in a district that well-understood the needs of diverse learners, as well as the fact that Pennsylvania itself is a high performing education system (ranked 8th nationally according to Borst, 2018), Pennsylvania just recently received approval for their plan.
In a press release dated January 16, 2018, it was stated that U.S. Secretary of Education, DeVos said, “Pennsylvania’s plan met the requirements of the law, and so I am happy to approve it” (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Pennsylvania’s plan was unique in how it plans to reduce the statewide percentage of non-proficient and students dropping out of school before graduation by 50 percent by 2030 and implements a Career Ready Indicator that will work to highlight school success through career exploration activities from Kindergarten through twelfth grade.
Secretary Rivera shared his pride in having Pennsylvania’s plan accepted by stating, “Pennsylvania’s plan reflects our guiding principles of transparency, equity, and innovation, and provides new flexibility to schools as they prepare students for success after graduation. We are particularly proud of the extensive stakeholder engagement efforts undertaken during the planning process, which ensure that the plan aligns with the needs and priorities of Pennsylvania’s educators, students, and communities” (email@example.com).