KGOU

State’s New Education Plan Calls for Big Strides

Sep 19, 2017

Reducing schools’ use of emergency certified teachers by 95 percent and boosting high school graduation to 90 percent are some of the goals set by the state Education Department in its plan for education under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The state also proposes attacking hunger in schools and is considering forcing failing schools that are on a four-day school week to change their calendar.

Under ESSA, which replaces No Child Left Behind, all states are tasked with submitting a plan detailing how federal education dollars will be spent, gauging school performance and turning around low-performing schools.

Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit journalism organization that produces in-depth and investigative content on a range of public-policy issues facing the state. For more Oklahoma Watch content, go to www.oklahomawatch.org.

Oklahoma submitted its plan, a 218-page document, to the U.S. Department of Education on Monday, and approval is expected. Twenty-nine other states were expected to also file their plans Monday, and three states impacted by hurricanes were given extensions. Sixteen states turned in plans last spring. The U.S. Department of Education is supposed to monitor states’ progress toward achieving their goals.

Here are five key things to know about Oklahoma’s ESSA plan:

  • The state sets concrete goals for academic improvement. Its goals are: scoring among the top 20 states on the “Nation’s Report Card,” or National Assessment of Educational Progress, in all subjects in fourth and eighth grades; reducing by 50 percent the need for college remediation in math and English; ranking among the top 10 states for high school graduation (including four-, five- and six-year rates); ensuring that 100 percent of secondary students develop an Individualized Career Academic Plan; ensuring 75 percent of students enter kindergarten ready to read; and reducing the need for emergency certified teachers by 95 percent. All goals are set with a target year of 2025.
  • The A-F report card system remains, despite feedback from stakeholders asking the state to reconsider. The state plans to use 2017-2018 test scores to create a baseline, with approximately 5 percent of schools receiving an A and 5 percent receiving an F. All schools receiving an F will be identified as comprehensive support schools, as well as any high school with a graduation rate of 67 percent or lower. These schools will receive grants targeting professional development. The state department also may force schools who receive the designation and are on a four-day week to change their calendar.
  • Oklahoma is pioneering a new method of analyzing student subgroups. The new accountability system creates a hierarchy where students’ scores are only counted once, even if they fall into multiple categories. Since economically disadvantaged is the top subgroup, only students who are not economically disadvantaged will fall into the other subgroups, such as students with disabilities, black students and Hispanic students. The method has faced criticism, but remains in the final plan. The state plans to suppress any measure with fewer than 10 students; early drafts had the suppression amount, called an N-size, at 30 but reduced it to improve transparency in small schools.
  • The plan also calls for combating hunger. The state plan addresses increasing schools’ participation in school meal programs, including Breakfast in the Classroom, Community Eligibility Provision, and the Summer Food Service Program. The state’s target is to have 75 percent of eligible schools participating in Community Eligibility Provision; currently 34 percent do. It also wants to boost participation in summer meals by 30 percent by 2025.
  • Chronic absenteeism is the state’s “fifth indicator.” Defined as missing 10% of the school year, or 18 days in 180-academic year. Chronic absenteeism will be reported for all students and separately by subgroups.