Revisions to Kentucky’s ESSA plan available for public comment

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(FRANKFORT, KY) – Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which was passed by Congress in 2015 to replace the No Child Left Behind Act, state education agencies are required to submit a plan detailing the implementation of the law and how federal education dollars will be spent.

The U.S. Department of Education (USED) requires states that have experienced changes to their initial state plan to submit revisions by March 1. After this deadline, if additional change occurs, a state submits an amendment of its state plan.

Kentucky Consolidated State Plan (state plan) initially was submitted to USED in September 2017 and received federal approval in early 2018. The plan was grounded in a year and a half of extensive outreach and engagement efforts with Kentuckians, including educators at all levels, families, businesses, education partners, policymakers and communities. Senate Bill 1, passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2017, further guided the development of the state plan.

The first year of implementation of the state plan occurred in the 2017-2018 academic year, with the new accountability system being reported in September 2018. Schools were identified with the federally-required designations of Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) — bottom 5 percent of schools or graduation rate below 80 percent; Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) — at least one student group in the bottom 5 percent; or Other — all others not identified as CSI or TSI.

Now that implementation has occurred, USED is encouraging states to review their plans and submit any revisions for approval.

“States learn a lot with the implementation of new accountability systems. Kentucky is no exception,” Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis said. “With the revision process, Kentucky has taken the opportunity to learn from the first year implementation, use the feedback and suggestions of stakeholders from across the state, and adjust the state’s ESSA plan in key areas, including growth and achievement gap, while holding firmly to our commitments to equity and continuous improvement.

“Kentucky’s public school system is fundamentally different from the system of the 1980s. Kentucky has been noted for reforms leading to greater equity in school funding, increased performance accountability and higher academic standards. However, among the most notable of the education challenges we continue to face are socioeconomic and racial achievement gaps.”

At its Feb. 6 meeting, the Kentucky Board of Education approved changes to the state’s accountability system in 703 KAR 5:270. These changes are reflected in revisions to the state plan. Accountability changes focus on simplifications to the system, compliance with state and federal law, and improvement of specific data calculations. Revisions include:

  • new methodology for calculating student growth as recommended by a work group of Kentucky educators;
  • recognition that a dual credit course grade of “C” meets the standard for transition readiness;
  • simplified achievement gap calculation comparing group performance and impacting the star rating;
  • a new indicator for state-required quality of school climate and safety based on perception data, replacing the opportunity and access measures;
  • new exact weights for indicators instead of a range of weights,
    removal of transition readiness at elementary and middle levels to avoid duplicate use of the same data; and
  • removal of the profile of performance approach and associated Star Rating charts.

Additional proposed revisions in the state plan were reviewed by Kentucky’s Title I Committee of Practitioners on Jan. 22, 2019. These changes include:

  • removal of language relating to the automation of systems to make students identified as migrant categorically eligible and documented for free lunch;
  • revision of language relating to summer programming for Migrant Education Programs to align with the flexibility in 704 KAR 3:292, as recently amended, by removing language requiring at least 80 hours of instruction over four to six weeks and, instead, stating that summer programs will provide “effective education services;”
  • revision of language relating to service delivery strategies related to mathematics to align with current program operations as well as to remove outdated legal citations; and
  • non-substantive changes made for clarity, grammatical correctness, and/or to accurately describe current program operations.

One additional change that is being proposed pertains to Section F and revises language relating to the use of Title IV, Part A funds in order to allow for additional flexibility in the implementation of state activities to meet the federal requirements of the program.

To see the draft of Kentucky’s state plan with revisions shown in red font and/or red line, click here.

Public comments on the draft revisions to Kentucky’s state plan must be received by close of business Feb. 27.

Comments may be emailed to KyEdListens@education.ky.gov or submitted to Deanna L. Durrett, General Counsel, Kentucky Department of Education, 300 Sower Blvd, 5th Floor, Frankfort, KY 40601. You may also submit comments via fax at (502) 564-9321.

All comments that are received in time will be considered before submission of the revised state plan to USED on March 1.

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