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May 8, 2017
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JP O'Hare

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State Education Department Releases Draft Every Student Succeeds Act Plan for Public Comment

Draft Plan Emphasizes Fostering Equity in Education for All Students

Expands Measures for School Accountability & Student Success

Requires School-Level Improvement Plans for Lowest-Performing Schools Overall and Among Certain Student Populations

Public Comment Accepted Through June 16 

The New York State Education Department today presented to the Board of Regents and released for public review and comment the draft Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan (summary available here), Commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced today. The draft plan emphasizes fostering equity in education for New York’s students; expands measures for school support and accountability, and student success; and requires school-level improvement plans for the lowest performing schools overall as well as schools with the lowest performance for certain student populations. The plan also includes strategies for supporting the professional growth of educators and ensuring that all students, including English language learners/Multilingual learners, immigrant students, migratory youth, homeless youth, and neglected and delinquent youth have access to a well-rounded education that supports their academic and social-emotional development.

“We must seize this opportunity to reimagine the role accountability plays in improving teaching and learning in our schools,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “ESSA gives us the chance to shift to a more holistic approach to accountability – an approach that looks at multiple measures of school and student success that will evolve over time. It allows us to look at critical, but often overlooked, indicators of success, like children’s social and emotional growth and development. This is about educating the whole child.”

“Over the past year and half, we have taken a deliberative, transparent and inclusive approach to develop New York’s ESSA plan,” Commissioner Elia said. “Our goal is straightforward – we will submit to the U.S. Department of Education a plan that supports the development of highly effective schools, so our children will be equipped to lead successful lives. I cannot emphasize enough that this plan is a draft – that means it’s not yet done and we want feedback on it. We will make changes to strengthen it based on those comments.”

NYSED held more than 120 stakeholder and public meetings to gather input to help inform the development of the draft plan. The Department is also hosting 13 public hearings on the plan from May 11 through June 16 and is accepting public comment on the plan through June 16.

The full draft plan and a summary are posted on the Department’s ESSA webpage. The summary document outlines the Department’s stakeholder engagement process and highlights key proposals from the full plan.

Highlights of the Draft Plan

Fostering Equity in Education

In addition to meeting ESSA requirements, New York’s draft ESSA plan supports the Board of Regents’ goal of increasing equity in educational opportunities for all students across the state.  To that end, New York explicitly designed the State accountability system to require schools and districts to:

  • reduce gaps in performance among certain populations for students;
  • incentivize districts to provide opportunities for advanced coursework to all high school students;
  • continue to support students who need more than four years to meet graduation requirements; and
  • work with students who have left school so that they can earn a high school equivalency diploma.

Further, under the draft plan, the state will: 

  • publish annual reports on per-pupil spending and equitable access to effective teachers per district;
  • identify inequities in resources available to schools and require districts to address these inequities in their improvement plans;
  • use Title I School Improvement Funds to increase diversity and reduce socio-economic and racial/ethnic isolation in schools;
  • develop state and local policies and procedures to ensure homeless youth are provided equal access to appropriate educational supports, services and opportunities;
  • create uniform transition plans for students exiting juvenile justice facilities; and
  • leverage the creation of P-20 partnerships to improve the quality and diversity of the educator workforce.

School Accountability Methodologies and Measurements

New York strives for an accountability system that supports all students, is transparent, prioritizes the measures that New York’s educators and families value, recognizes the good work that schools are doing, and accurately identifies schools that need the most help. The proposed revisions to New York’s school accountability and support system will improve teaching and learning and increase educational equity.

The Board of Regents is committed to evolving the state’s accountability and support system over time to add additional measures of school quality and student success. To achieve this, the Regents will form a workgroup to make recommendations on further measures to be added in the future.

School accountability strategies New York will implement in the draft ESSA plan include to:

  • expand accountability measures beyond English language arts and mathematics to also include science, social studies, acquisition of English proficiency by English language learners/Multilingual learners, and chronic absenteeism.
    • expand access to advanced coursework, particularly for students in less-affluent school districts, through the creation of a College, Career and Civic Readiness index;
    • add additional measures of school quality and student success over time. These could include such measures as students access to specific learning opportunities such as in the arts, science or technology courses; high school readiness for middle level students; postsecondary success of high school graduates; school climate and supports for students’ social, emotional and academic learning, as measured by student surveys and suspension rates; student access to highly qualified teachers; student access to diverse learning environments; and measure of student civic engagement; 
  • establish five-year, long-term goals for closing achievement gaps; and
    • ensure a continued focus on students who need extra time to meet graduation requirements by including five- and six -year graduation rates in the accountability system.

Supports and Improvement for Schools and Districts

Under the draft ESSA plan, every three years the State will identify Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) schools based on the performance of all students and Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) schools based on the performance of subgroups of students. CSI and TSI schools will be required to develop school-level improvement plans in partnership with stakeholders. The State will also annually recognize schools that are high performing or rapidly improving. In addition, the State will identify school districts for targeted support that have one or more CSI or TSI school or, as a district, has certain populations of students who performs at a CSI or TSI level.

The draft plan outlines the supportive role that the State will take in working with identified schools and districts and establishes a system that promotes best practices while also allowing schools to identify the most appropriate solutions to the barriers they face, rather than prescribing an abundance of one-size-fits-all requirements. The State will approach school improvement as a set of stages to be in done in partnership with identified schools and districts, as opposed to approaching school improvement as a set of stages to be imposed on schools and districts.  As part of this partnership, the State will provide multiple supports and opportunities for technical assistance to help schools identify and implement the specific solutions they need to address their specific challenges. 

Requirements for identified TSI and CSI schools include to:

  • undergo a Comprehensive Diagnostic Needs Assessment that examines school quality, school data and resource allocation;
  • develop an annual improvement plan based on the Needs Assessment;
  • provide professional development connected to the improvement plan; and
  • determine the effectiveness of their improvement efforts through an annual review and parent, teacher and student surveys.

The State will provide a robust system of supports to identified schools and districts to assist them throughout each of these stages.  Additionally, after the initial year of identification, the State will prioritize its support each year to any CSI school not making gains. While this differentiated approach is intended to provide the most support to the schools that need the most assistance, should a CSI school be re-identified as a CSI school, the school will be placed in receivership whereby the district superintendent or an independent receiver will have enhanced authority to manage the school. Schools that are currently “Priority Schools” will immediately be placed under receivership if they are identified as CSI.

Supporting Excellent Educators

The Department’s efforts to improve all students’ access to effective educators includes work with preparation programs, higher education providers, districts, BOCES and educators. To support educators and improve the quality of teaching and learning, the Department will:

  • leverage partnerships among institutions of higher education, other preparatory programs and public schools to create additional opportunities for candidates in teacher and school building leader preparation programs to have robust, field-based experiences that allow them to apply what they learn in the classroom and demonstrate that they have acquired the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to provide effective instruction and effective leadership earlier in their careers.
  • examine existing pathways to certification for both teachers and school leaders to ensure that existing structures are not creating unintended barriers for promising candidates to enter the profession.
  • assist school districts in creating comprehensive systems of professional learning, support and advancement for all educators – including those who are new to the field – along the entire continuum of their careers.

Supporting English Language Learners/Multilingual Learners

Of New York’s 2.6 million public school students, 8.8 percent are English language learners/Multilingual learners. New York will seek to improve teaching and learning as well as educator effectiveness by setting challenging, but attainable, goals for the state’s ELLs/MLLs. The draft ESSA Plan will enable ELLs/MLLs to develop English language proficiency, as well as access the state’s Next Generation Learning Standards, through the provision of high-quality instruction and support. The Department proposes to:

  • exempt recently arrived ELLs/MLLs in their first year of enrollment from the ELA exam. In addition, New York will propose to use such students’ ELA scores in the second year of enrollment only to set a baseline for future growth and achievement in the third year. In past practice, ELLs/MLLs’ ELA scores in the second year were used to measure achievement, rather than to set a baseline;
  • use a Transition Matrix Table for incorporating ELLs/MLLs’ growth toward attainment of English language proficiency into state accountability determinations; and
  • determine each district’s effectiveness in providing ELLs/MLLs with academic instruction that meets their needs through a self-evaluation tool.

Supporting All Students

New York believes that the highest levels of learning can occur when students and educators learn and teach in environments that are safe, supportive, and welcoming to all.  To support this belief, New York will:

  • support districts to reduce bullying, harassment and the overuse of punitive and exclusionary responses to student misbehavior while promoting positive disciplinary practices, improving school climate and providing students with social-emotional supports;
  • work with districts to build positive school climates based on inclusive, equitable school cultures that recognize student diversity;
  • promote strategies to effectively engage parents and family members in their child’s education at the state, district and school levels; and
  • require schools and districts to collaborate with relevant community partners when conducting a comprehensive needs assessment and creating improvement plans based on such assessments.

Challenging Academic Standards and Assessments

New York is completing a two-year collaborative process with educators to revise the Next Generation English Language Arts and Mathematics Learning Standards to ensure that they continue to be rigorous and challenge New York’s students. In December 2016 New York adopted new science standards that have a focus on experiential learning; those standards become effective in 2017-18.

Once the application is released by the U.S. Department of Education, New York will apply to participate in the Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority that will provide states the opportunity to work with selected school districts to pilot new approaches to assessment. During the pilot period these assessments can be used to meet federal participation and accountability requirements.

Stakeholder Engagement

For the past year, NYSED has coordinated and engaged diverse groups of stakeholders to solicit recommendations on how to craft an ESSA plan that best meets the needs of the state’s students, schools and communities. In these efforts NYSED established an ESSA Think Tank with representatives from more than 100 organizations, including district leaders, teachers, parents, community members and students and consulted with national education experts regarding ESSA, including Linda Darling-Hammond (Learning Policy Institute), Scott F. Marion (National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment), and Michael Cohen (Achieve).

In addition, NYSED held more than 120 fall and winter regional in-person meetings across the state in coordination with the state’s 37 Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) and the superintendents of the state’s five largest City School Districts, which were attended by more than 4,000 students, parents, teachers, school and district leaders, school board members, and other stakeholders.

Next Steps & Process for Submitting Public Comment

NYSED is accepting public comment on the draft plan through June 16 in writing and at 13 public hearings. Department staff will provide a summary and response to the comments received to the Board of Regents at the July meeting.  It is expected the Board will vote on adopting a final version of the ESSA State plan in September.

Once the Board approves the ESSA plan, the State Education Department will submit the plan to the USDE for review and approval on September 18, 2017. After the plan is approved by the USDE, the Department will work with BOCES District superintendents, superintendents, the ESSA Think Tank and other stakeholder groups to develop and provide guidance on implementing the ESSA plan.

Comments can be submitted via email to with “ESSA Comments from (sender/organization name)” in the subject line. Comments submitted via mail should be sent to the attention of Dr. Lisa Long, New York State Education Department, Office of Accountability, 4th Floor, 55 Hanson Place, Brooklyn, New York 11217. Comments will be accepted through June 16.