Advertisement
  1. Florida

Florida education commissioner chimes in on federal Every Student Succeeds Act

Published Aug. 5, 2016

Days after closing the window on public input for Florida's effort to implement new federal education accountability rules, state education commissioner Pam Stewart has sent her own views to U.S. Education Secretary John King.

In her seven-page letter, Stewart touts Florida's existing system, and reminds the secretary that the federal government cannot force states to adopt new rules beyond the scope of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which intended to give states more control over the matter.

"Regulations can only be issued by the Secretary 'to the extent that such regulations are necessary to ensure there is compliance with the specific requirements and assurances required by this Act,'" she wrote.

Stewart proceeds to detail her questions and concerns about key areas in the ESSA law and guidelines. Her move comes as the state reviews the comments it receives and prepares to draft its own plan, taking into account the newly adopted act. Among her positions, Stewart:

- Notes that the timeline for implementing new accountability measures might be too compressed.

"ESSA requires that the revised accountability requirements take effect beginning with the 2017-18 school year," she writes. "The proposed regulation requires use of 2016-17 data to inform an ESSA-compliant accountability system for the 2017-18 school year. Section 200.19(d) requires that the 2016-17 data measure a school's performance on the indicators which then must be used to select schools for Comprehensive Support and Improvement. State plans describing the accountability systems are not due to the United States Department of Education (USED) until either March 6th or July 3rd of 2017. USED then has 120 days to review plans, with additional time provided for revision and resubmission, if needed. The states would not use the accountability systems described in their plans until the plan is approved by USED. Accordingly, it would not be possible to calculate accountability ratings to identify schools for the 2017-18 school year."

- Questions the proposal for differentiating, or grading, all public schools annually.

"In Florida, differentiating each indicator by at least three distinct levels would actually reduce transparency to the public and make student performance data more difficult to understand. Florida's indicators are all based on percentages; for example, the percentage of students meeting English Language Arts proficiency standards. Translating those percentages into levels would disguise the meaning of the indicator. Furthermore, s. 200.18(d)(3) exceeds its authority by adding a requirement that based on all students' and each subgroup's performance, a school performing in the lowest performance level on any of the indicators must receive a different summative rating than a school performing in the highest performance level on all indicators."

- Challenges the recommendation that school report cards be presented in a language parents can understand.

"For example, s. 200.21(b) requires parental notice of schools identified for Comprehensive Support and Improvement, which must be, to the extent practicable, written in a language that parents can understand or, if not practicable, orally translate to a parent with limited English proficiency. In addition, upon request by a parent or guardian with a disability, the LEA must provide the notice 'in an alternative format accessible to that parent.' (Would this include Braille, audio, sign language?) Florida believes that the requirements in ESSA are sufficient without the requirements added in the rule which may not be feasible to implement because there are over 300 languages spoken by Florida parents."

Read Stewart's entire letter here.

Tallahassee-based education consultant Cheryl Sattler, who specializes in federal programs, said Stewart raises some important points, such as those about the time frames. More broadly, though, she suggested that the letter was political.

"Overall ... this letter is basically one statement: 'Florida already has a great system, knows what it's doing, and shouldn't have to change,'" Sattler said via email. "I wouldn't look for resolution until winter."

The Florida Department of Education expects to publish its draft ESSA plan in early 2017.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2018 file photo, Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz listens during a status check on his case at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. As his death penalty trial draws closer, a hearing is set for school shooting defendant Cruz in the 2018 massacre that killed 17 people. The hearing Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, likely concerns the setting of timelines leading up to the planned January trial of the 21-year-old Cruz. AMY BETH BENNETT  |  AP
    The hearing Wednesday likely concerns the setting of timelines leading up to the planned January trial of the 21-year-old Cruz.
  2. Herman Lindsey, a former death row inmate who was exonerated, holds a letter that he and other wrongfully convicted men delivered Tuesday to the office of Gov. Ron DeSantis, asking him to stop the execution of James Dailey. Witness to Innocence
    Former death row inmates delivered a letter to the governor’s office Tuesday asking him to stay the execution of James Dailey over questions of innocence. DeSantis won’t budge.
  3. West Palm Beach police spokeswoman Molly Anderson said during a news conference on Tuesday that Department of Homeland Security agents arrested Rudelmiro Santizo Perez on Monday in Houston as he tried to flee to Guatemala. West Palm Beach Police Department/Facebook
    Police began investigating on Oct. 3 when a hidden camera was found inside an employee bathroom at St. Mary’s Medical Center.
  4. This Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, photo shows the graded dirt surface where sod will be placed in November inside what will be the stadium for David Beckham’s Inter Miami MLS soccer team that opens its inaugural season in 2020 at the site of the former Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. TIM REYNOLDS  |  AP
    Construction is on schedule, with all signals pointing toward everything being ready for the team’s first home match that’s likely to come in March.
  5. FILE - In this March 15, 2018, file photo, emergency personnel respond after a new pedestrian bridge collapsed onto a highway at Florida International University in Miami. Federal transportation officials say that Louis Berger Group, Inc., the firm charged with reviewing the design of the FIU bridge that collapsed and killed six people, was not properly qualified by the state. PEDRO PORTAL  |  AP
    National Transportation Safety Board members concluded Tuesday the design firm FIGG Bridge Engineers, Inc. underestimated the load of the bridge.
  6. Brummit has been a prep cook at the Aloft Hotel. Now he's being held without bond. Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida/Facebook
    Johnny Brummit became involved in an Oct. 17 dispute between a girlfriend and a bus station security officer, Orange County Sheriff’s officials say.
  7. The sign for Tyrone Square Mall. JAY CONNNER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The story behind the ever-present name involves St. Pete’s first airport and a bootlegging mogul.
  8. Broward Sheriff's Sgt. Donald Prichard tells the South Florida SunSentinel that 39-year-old Christopher Randazzo was killed early Saturday morning. His body was found at the Southern Seas Resort in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Coral Springs Fire Department/Facebook
    Christopher Randazzo had worked for the Coral Springs-Parkland Fire Department since March. Division Chief Mike Moser says funeral arrangements are pending.
  9. Melvin Morris is seen in this undated photo by Nick Del Calzo. NICK DEL CALZO  |  Photo by
    Some were born in Florida. Others joined up here. All received the nation’s highest award for valor in action against an enemy force.
  10. Among the speakers at Big Brothers, Big Sisters news conference in Tampa on Monday were police Officer Joel McKee and his Bigs in Blue match Princeton, a student at Pizzo Elementary. TONY MARRERO  |  Tony Marrero
    The money will help the non-profit create more mentoring matches across the country and here in Tampa Bay.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement