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ESSA: Increasing Expectations of Schools and Students

S. Lincoln

After nearly a year of focus groups and public meetings, the Louisiana Department of Education is releasing its final version of the state’s ESSA plan the end of this month.

“The Every Student Succeeds Act is a federal requirement that states have their own plans. And it’s really for three things: first, how are you going to spend $700-million in federal money? Second, how are you going to evaluate what’s worked and what hasn’t in schools? And third, when things don’t work, how are you going to intervene?” State Education Superintendent John White explains.

He says the replacement for the federal “No Child Left Behind” format aims for overall improved student performance by 2025, and Louisiana is building that expectation into the plan. The planned state changes include increasing the standard for an “A”-rated school to a 90% graduation rate and average ACT scores of 21. 

White says the state will also help schools get there by awarding them points based on how much students’  improve each year.

“We’re going to look at not just where a child ends up at the end of the year, but how much the child grew over the course of the year.”

Reduction of the amount of testing time is part of the plan – no more than two percent of all school minutes each year -- as well as a renewed focus on what are often called “enrichment” classes.

“We need to acknowledge that arts and foreign language, and career and technical education – things that aren’t measured by tests – those are essential for kids, too,” White says, adding that far too many Louisiana schools haven’t had the wherewithal to provide those types of classes for their students.

”That’s why you see our plan to target resources directly to those schools and those kids, to make sure that every child is getting a well-rounded, enriched education.”

The draft framework for the ESSA plan is already up on the Department of Education website: louisianabelieves.com