ESSA State Plan Frequently Asked Questions

We recently spoke with Lynn Sodat from the Virginia Department of Education regarding the state’s plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Our questions stemmed from our reading of the initial draft of the state’s plan as well as questions put forth by MERC school divisions at the March policy and planning meeting.

What is the timeline for the state’s plan?

  • July 20 – The state’s revised plan will be posted for public viewing around this time
  • July 26 – Accountability presentation to the Board of Education. They will determine final required revisions
  • July 27 – Board of Education will conduct a final review and approval of the plan, at which time the plan will be sent to the governor
  • September 18 – The next scheduled Board of Education meeting – the Board will continue to receive public comment on the state plan prior to this meeting and may call a special meeting if major changes are required to the plan
  • The plan will then go to the US Department of Education for review

When will the plan be finalized?

Because the state opted to go with the fall submission deadline, the plan will most likely not be finalized until winter.  Although this is the case, new accountability measures will still be put into place for the upcoming (2017-18) school year.  The VDOE is developing a training schedule to ensure that all school division assessment teams have an understanding of new requirements under ESSA.

What is the biggest change under ESSA?

The biggest change is the move toward a “gap closing model.”  Scores on the state reading and mathematics benchmark tests will still be used for accountability purposes.  However, the Board of Education has approved using a combined rate for accountability purposes.  For example, a student who shows improvement in benchmark scores may have their scores count differently in the overall pass rate for the school.

What are the changes to policies regarding English Learners?

Many of the accountability provisions for ELs have been moved from Title I to Title III.  The English proficiency indicator will be a factor in determining the school rating, however the state has not yet developed the plan regarding proficiency of ELs.  The tests used as indicators of English proficiency have new scales.  The state will need to analyze the latest testing data to determine the specifics of the English proficiency indicators.  The VDOE plans to analyze the data and seek stakeholder feedback over the summer.

Are there changes to teacher evaluation?

There are no significant changes to the existing teacher evaluation plan.  There is no longer language about ‘highly qualified’ teachers under ESSA.  The state will continue to implement the existing requirements for teacher licensure and endorsement.

Will there be large changes in funding?

ESSA maintains the system for funding under Titles I.A, I.C, I.D, II.A, and III.A.  These will continue to be formula grants.  The state had the option of using a competitive grant program for Title IV.A, but instead opted to include this with the formula grants.  Title IV.B was and will continue to be a competitive grant.  There are some changes to Title I funds the state sets aside for improvement, but individual divisions should not see large changes to their allocated funds.  There may be a change to the funds school divisions receive under Title II.A.  Divisions that have experienced dramatic changes in population since 2001 may see large changes in the funds received under this title.  The VDOE provided estimates to divisions in an effort to prepare them for any financial changes under the new plan.

What is the other indicator used for accountability?

The state has decided to use absenteeism as the indicator rather than school climate, as had been previously discussed.  This decision came after discussion from multiple stakeholders.  If this indicator changes in the future, the plan can be amended.




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