Monday, October 15, 2018

Florida wins approval for its federal accountability plan

Florida has finally gotten its federal education accountability plan accepted.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos sent Florida commissioner Pam Stewart a formal letter acknowledging the approval on Wednesday.

Florida had been the only state in the nation not to have an approved plan. It went through five revisions — including one submitted on Monday — before DeVos signed off.

"My decision regarding Florida's consolidated State plan is based on input from U.S. Department of Education (Department) staff who reviewed and carefully considered the plan submitted by Florida," DeVos wrote in her letter.

Stewart and her department long resisted some of the Every Student Succeeds Act provisions, particularly in relation to assessment of English language learners and the math testing of advanced middle school students.

Related coverage: What's the holdup with Florida's federal ESSA accountability plan? 

Its final set of amendments came amid a back and forth with federal officials on such issues as how schools exit from turnaround status, and how the state identified schools needing improvement support.

Stewart expressed satisfaction with the approval, which she said reflects Florida's successes in its own accountability efforts.

"The 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results showed that Florida's students excelled while much of the nation remained flat, and, just this month, Education Week ranked Florida 4th in the nation for K-12 student achievement," she said via email. "These and Florida's many other education accomplishments are the result of hard work in our schools, high expectations for every student and a strong accountability system. With this plan, Florida will continue these student-centered policies, which will keep our students on track for even greater success."

See the U.S. Department of Education new release for more details.

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