August 8, 2017
On Wednesday, the First State came in first again. The U.S. Dept. of Education approved Delaware’s plan to improve education in their state in accordance with the Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA).
Delaware was one of the early birds, joining 15 other states (plus D.C.) to submit their state’s vision for improving education to the U.S. Dept. of Education for review and approval in the spring of this year.
Federal Approval Should Be the Lowest Bar
Even though the First State’s plan has been approved by the federal government, for Delaware schools to improve, it’s important that the state think about going beyond federal compliance. Each state’s plan should be bold, forward thinking, innovative, comprehensive and thoughtful.
This summer, experts from across the country, from a variety of backgrounds, political leanings, and experience came together to look at Delaware’s plan – and examine whether states, across the country, have submitted a strong plan that will help improve schools, or a plan that could be bolder, more innovative or stronger.
So what did Delaware do with this opportunity? Did Delaware share how they plan to better identify and support struggling schools? Did Delaware share how they plan to close the state’s achievement gap?
What’s in Delaware’s Plan? Here’s What the Experts Say
The best part of Delaware’s plan, out of the nine categories experts looked at, were the state’s plans around standards and assessments.
Delaware’s ideas are exemplary for ensuring students aspire to high academic standards with an aligned assessment to track their progress. We hope that other states will look for ways to incorporate this best practice.
At the same time, there are several elements of the plan which lack the clarity and detail necessary to give the state the best opportunity to improve outcomes in the classroom. Since submitting its plan, Delaware has made changes to it, and will likely to continue to refine it over time. One area our experts noted could still improve, is the state’s plan for ensuring schools that are underperforming demonstrate real progress and are thus not likely to slip back into being labeled failing.
Adam Ezring is the Director of Policy at the Collaborative for Student Success