1. Gradebook

Florida stands alone as sole state without federally approved accountability plan

The state has defied some of the key provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act in its application.
Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart speaks at a recent Florida Constitution Revision Commission committee meeting. [The Florida Channel]
Published Jul. 17, 2018
Updated Jul. 17, 2018

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President Donald Trump's administration has in many ways held up Florida's education system as a model for the nation. It's hired many former Florida education officials to top jobs in its own education department.

Yet Florida's proposed plan to meet federal Every Student Succeeds Act standards is now the only one that remains unapproved by Secretary Betsy DeVos.

As Education Week noted, DeVos approved the plans for California and Utah late last week. She did not, however, act on Florida's submission, which commissioner Pam Stewart sent in late April.

It marked Florida's second attempt to receive federal approval, after its initial proposal came back with a "needs improvement" mark from the feds.

Stewart's department long has held that some of the ESSA guidelines do not fit with Florida's education vision, and has resisted following some of the guidelines relating to testing in languages other than English and focusing on demographic subgroup performance levels.

Stewart, who has announced her plan to retire leave her job at the end of the year, has made clear since 2016 her stance that the federal government cannot force Florida to overturn its system. Critics, meanwhile, have demanded that DeVos hold the state to the federal standard.

We have asked the U.S. Department of Education for an update on Florida's status regarding ESSA, but so far have received no response. The most recent public document available is a June 5 status report from U.S. Education to Stewart.

It stated that, as of that date, Florida "has not submitted a revised consolidated State plan that meets all the requirements of the ESEA and the McKinney-Vento Act."

A Florida Department of Education spokeswoman recently said the department is awaiting more information from its federal counterpart.