The state Education Department announced this evening that the feds had signed off on the state’s education accountability plan.

You perhaps read earlier a Democrat-Gazette article by nonpareil education reporter Cynthia Howell on the feds’ request that the state “tweak” its plan on handling test scores to measure accountability.

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I note in passing that Education Commissioner Johnny Key remarked today on Twitter about a comment that educators should rely more on research-based methods for improving reading scores than test standards. Key said that Arkansas is relying on both.

Godspeed. I remain convinced that demography (economics) is destiny in school (student) performance but bless Arkansas and anyone else who can achieve 80 percent proficiency among poor children who disproportionately come from less-educated and often fractured, starving and ill families, many that don’t speak English

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The gobbledegook news release on this, as Paul Greenberg would say, “educanto” follows:

Arkansas’ Every Student Succeeds Act plan received approval today from the U.S. Department of Education. The approval of Arkansas’ federal education accountability plan reflects more than a year and a half of ongoing collaboration, input and feedback provided by educators, parents and students around the state.

“For over a year and a half, every Arkansan has had an opportunity to provide thoughts and ideas on how we can better measure success in our public schools,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “The Every Student Succeeds Act is a result of the feedback from those who know our students best, placing decisions in the hands of those who are familiar with our students’ individual educational needs. This new plan emphasizes accountability and better reflects the values of our education system. I look forward to seeing great things in our education system as a result of the Every Student Succeeds Act.”

“I want to thank the stakeholders who provided valuable input and who worked tirelessly to help us develop a plan that will best measure student success here in Arkansas,” ADE Commissioner Johnny Key said. “Our student-focused plan places an emphasis on growth, with greater weighting in the accountability measure, as well as a commitment to equity for all students. We are excited about the opportunity to continue collaborating with stakeholders during the implementation phase.”
Arkansas submitted its plan to USDE on September 15, 2017. USDE had 120 days to review the plan and provide feedback. After multiple conversations and revisions, USDE approved Arkansas’ plan, which will be fully implemented in the 2018-2019 school year.

“The feedback we received from USDE helped strengthen Arkansas’ plan,” Key said. “I appreciate USDE’s input and the ADE team’s numerous hours of hard work to ensure Arkansas’ plan met federal requirements while still reflecting the direction provided by Arkansas stakeholders.”

Each indicator in the plan is centered on the state’s student-focused vision of providing access and opportunities that value each student’s success while preparing students for college and career through rigorous academic standards. In addition, stakeholders focused on reading proficiency, science and expanded learning opportunities for all students in the development of the School Quality and Student Success indicator.

Throughout the development of Arkansas’ plan, ADE collaborated with numerous stakeholders around the state. Feedback was received from regional community listening forums, ambassador-led forums and advisory team meetings. ADE initiated multiple surveys to gauge input, and the Vision for Excellence in Education and Arkansas Accountability System Steering Committee provided guidance throughout the process.

ADE is committed to working with schools during the implementation phase. A webinar was recently held with schools to explain specific components of the plan. To view the webinar, learn more about the process and to see drafts of the plan, please visit http://www.arkansased.gov/divisions/public-school-accountability/every-student-succeeds-act-essa.

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