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WV’s ESSA plan seeing further changes, praise, criticism

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WV’s ESSA plan seeing further changes, praise, criticism
By Ryan Quinn, The Charleston Gazette-Mail

West Virginia’s proposed federal Every Student Succeeds Act compliance plan, which includes a planned new public school accountability system plus plans for how to improve schools that score low in that system, is seeing significant changes and public praise and criticism ahead of its scheduled submission to the U.S. Education Department next month.

Among the changes so far, the state Department of Education is now planning to take into account schools’ five-year high school graduation rates, atop their four-year rates.

The department is also abandoning its proposal to initially assign each of its four planned labels for school performance measures to a quarter of elementary, middle and high schools. This would have been done by comparing Mountain State schools’ performance only to other in-state schools on each performance measure and, for each measure, assigning the lowest label to the bottom-scoring 25 percent, the next lowest to the next 25 percent, and so on.

The plan is online for public comment through 4 p.m. Wednesday at wvde.state.wv.us/essa. Michele Blatt, the state education department’s assistant superintendent over the Division of Support and Accountability, said the state Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the plan Sept. 7 or Sept. 8. The federal education department must then review it.

Graduation, behavior and attendance changes

Blatt said the department heard from parents, teachers and principals about the importance of including five-year graduation rates in order to incentivize students to complete their degrees through school, rather than just getting a high school equivalency degree.

And last week, in line with the department’s dumping of its former plan to quarter up schools in order to assign the four labels, Blatt revealed newly proposed “cut scores” for schools to earn the labels.

These were for just the graduation, behavior and attendance rate measures; information wasn’t provided on cut scores for assigning labels on standardized test scores and other measures.

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