Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states have been given a unique and important opportunity to shape and customize a plan that advances educational opportunities in bold and innovative ways for all students.
The Check State Plans project is based on the belief that states need to embrace the flexibility ESSA offers them, and that their plans should implement strong state-level accountability systems that are rooted in the following principles:
Set the bar high for what students need to know and understand:
With a focus on college- and career-ready state standards, preferably comparable across states to protect all students, particularly military-connected and mobile students; annual statewide assessments aligned to a state’s college- and career-ready standards that have been validated by outside experts; and a rigorous, NAEP-like benchmark for proficiency on the state assessments.
Focus on closing the achievement gap in math and English:
Including clearly articulated statewide goals for improving reading and math assessment results, particularly for low-income students and students of color; an effective plan to close achievement gaps; and policies that promote a comprehensive equity agenda rooted in publicly-reported school and district performance results that are disaggregated by race, income and learning needs.
Ensure that parents and communities have access to meaningful data:
By laying out steps to make the state’s overall performance of its K-12 system highly transparent to the public, in addition to a plan to make an accurate picture of individual school performance accessible to parents. This should include straightforward school ratings with summative scores or dashboards of indicators that can combine to inform summative ratings.
Have a real plan for helping those schools that have been historically failing:
Rooted in a tool to inform state action on effective interventions, meaningful supports and/or appropriate consequences for schools and districts that are not meeting their goals.