The Texas Education Agency submitted its Every Student Succeeds Act consolidated plan to the U.S. Department of Education Tuesday.
ESSA replaced the controversial No Child Left Behind Act in 2015. No Child Left Behind included a number of federally-mandated performance measures.
ESSA requires states to submit their own plan for improving and measuring student success. The plan is supposed to offer a comprehensive overview of how the state will use federal funds to make students successful, and it is subject to federal review.
Belton Independent School District Superintendent Susan Kincannon said she is concerned about some aspects of the plan.
“I have concerns about the implementation of House Bill 22 and the changes to the state accountability system,” Kincannon said. “The (ESSA) plan includes an overly complicated methodology for evaluating and rating schools and continues to be detrimental to campuses with a higher concentration of economically disadvantaged students.”
However, Kincannon also said the broader elements of the plan look helpful.
“I appreciate the strategic priorities outlined in the state plan, especially those that are focused on professional development and increasing teacher knowledge and skills in order to improve instructional practices in the classroom,” she said.
Temple Independent School District Assistant Superintendent Bobby Ott said the plan may benefit local schools.
“There are two big changes that will probably impact Temple ISD and Texas school districts in general, and they’ll have a positive impact on our schools,” Ott said. “Under ESSA, school districts will have more flexibility in the supplement versus supplant provision. Previously, when you used federal money, you could only use those federal dollars to supplement something you’re doing in the school district, not supplant it.”
Ott said this funding change could directly benefit Temple students.
“As our state continues to reduce funding to schools, or not add additional funding to schools, this will potentially give us more flexibility to use federal dollars in areas where the state has not adequately funded school districts,” he said.
Having ESSA replace No Child Left Behind’s accountability measures could also be helpful, Ott said.
“The federal government has eliminated adequate yearly progress, which was an unrealistic federal accountability standard,” he said. “School districts and campuses were being punished due to AYP even if they were doing well on state accountability standards. It was a good move by the federal government to do away with AYP.”
According to the TEA, ESSA increases the flexibility and decision-making authority granted to states, allowing for greater innovation while still holding states accountable for results.
The Department of Education now has 120 days to review Texas’ plan.