Georgia’s education plan does not meet federal law in nine areas according to a December 14th letter sent to State School Superintendent Richard Woods by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE).
Superintendent Woods spent the better part of 2016 garnering input from educators and the public about how the new federal education plan should look for Georgia. Despite those efforts, some areas did not meet federal statute, according to the letter from USDOE.
Georgia has nine indicators in its state accountability plan for the federal government under the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which need clarification before approval by the U.S. Department of Education.
Georgia’s plan fails to explain how the indicators are measured and how the indicators are compared among schools.
Georgia’s plan needs to provide more information and clarify how the state will show how its ESSA plan identifies low-performing schools and schools where certain sub-groups are performing under the new federal law. According to the USDOE’s letter, Georgia will need to explain students in poverty-stricken areas will get effective teachers.
The USDOE wants clarification on student standardized testing participation. According to federal law, 95 percent of the students must participate in annual testing in all subgroups of students. However, Georgia’s plan is unclear how it will make rules for those school that has less than 95 percent participation.
Georgia’s plan states that if testing participation falls below 95 percent, that schools can calculate by multiplying the achievement rate for that group of students by the actual participation rate and then divide that result by 95 percent. According to the USDOE letter, this method is not consistent with the new ESSA law and the new law does not provide flexibility in this area.
According to the new federal law, Georgia would need to federal government’s formula for calculating participation rate in standardized testing which would include the number of students that participated in the testing in all areas. Federal funding can be withheld by the U.S. Education Department to states that dip below the 95 percent threshold. However, no state has ever been penalized for their threshold dipping below 95 percent. In 2015, the state of New York had 20 percent refuse to take the state’s standardized test and there was no penalty.
Georgia’s revisions must be submitted by December 29, 2017. The letter does provide for an extension to the December 29th deadline.
Georgia must clarify the following to meet federal law requirements:
- Georgia’s plan needs to clarify the earning of extra points high levels of achievement, progress, and achievement gap closure.
- Georgia must clarify how primary schools and alternative schools will receive cores based on the accountability system.
- Clarification of how Georgia will monitor underperforming schools outside of Graduation rate and Achievement Indicators.
- Georgia’s plan does not meet federal requirements for Title I and “Additional Targeted Support” for schools.
- Georgia’s plan does not clarify how local boards of education will conduct a review of allocations in supporting school improvement.
- Georgia’s plan does not clarify how the extent that low-income and minority students enrolled in schools assisted under Title I by having an ineffective teacher.
- Georgia’s plan is not clear on how subgrants will be awarded to school districts.
- Georgia’s plan does not follow current law as to how homeless students will be given support education services.