GazetteXtra Print Article Logo URL:

Florida will stay the course with ESSA planning

By Jeffrey S. Solochek
The Florida Channel
Florida education Commissioner Pam Stewart speaks to lawmakers in February.

Despite a decision by Congress this spring to repeal key provisions connected to the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Florida Department of Education has no intention of scrapping its efforts to date in creating an ESSA state implementation plan.

Education commissioner Pam Stewart recently informed superintendents that the state would continue its work toward the Sept. 18 due date, and have its proposed plan online for public comment over the summer. Toward that end, she has asked a group of district leaders including Mike Grego of Pinellas County to help hash out details of several key issues that needed more attention.

Those included requirements on percentage of students tested, assessment exemptions for English language learners and the use of subgroups to differentiate accountability. Florida takes approaches that do not necessarily correlate with the federal guidelines.

"Florida is ahead of most of the nation in our policies that feed into the ESSA State Plan," Stewart said in a memo to superintendents. "We will seek the opportunity where necessary to request waivers and continue current practice where we believe as a group it is best for Florida."

Stewart has remained steadfast in asserting Florida's need to do what's best for itself, and noting that the federal government cannot force states to take action beyond the scope of law, since 2016.

Visit the Department of Education's ESSA website for more information about its progress and plans.