Redefining School Accountability

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The new federal education law Every Student Succeeds act (ESSA) was passed to replace the No Child Left Behind act (NCLB) recently. As a result states around the country are putting together plans to hold the schools and districts accountable. The new accountability plans will need to submitted to the United States Department of Education by July 2017. This is going to be a daunting task for some states, but one has a plan already in place. They just need to tweak the current plan a bit.

The state in question is Minnesota, as a result of the state having to apply for a waiver to the previous act NCLB. When applying for the waiver, the state was required to develop a plan very similar to what is required in the new ESSA law. Therefore, Minnesota is ahead of the curve on this one.

score report

The new requirements require states to track proficiency in Math and ELA ,plus high school graduation rates. In addition they also need to track the growth in English-Language proficiency, and one other indicator of school quality.

States are allowed to determine the indicator of school quality from multiple factors. Among the indicators they can choose from are student engagement, teacher engagement, school climate and safety and expulsion rate.


In Minnesota they already track proficiency in Math and ELA along with the growth of their student population. The state has already decided upon what additional indicator they will use to be in compliance with the new ESSA law. Their choice is to track chronic absenteeism. They will use this indicator to identify students that are missing more than normal amounts of school days. Once identified they can then use targeted interventions on the students they feel have a chance of falling behind or dropping out of school completely.

As states look into this wild card indicator, they will continue to study and assess the best fit for their particular state. States will need to finalize, and review their plans by early spring in order to meet the federal deadline of July 2017.

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Jeremy Brunton