Feds Ask How Vermont Will Use Data To Ensure 'Every Student Succeeds'

Aug 14, 2017

The U.S. Department of Education says Vermont has to give more information about how the state will measure student progress under the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA.

ESSA replaced No Child Left Behind and every state has to submit a new plan to the federal education department.

Vermont was one of the first states to submit a plan before the first deadline in April and the U.S. Department of Education sent a response last week looking for more information.

Vermont Education Deputy Secretary Amy Fowler says the state wants to track student progress over the years, and not only use high stake test results from single grades.

So Fowler says the Agency of Education now has to send additional information and convince the feds that it's plan is sound while maintaining Vermont's move away from only relying on single year test scores.

"We really do want to keep the Vermont voice front and center," Fowler says. "So as long as we are doing it in a way that doesn't take us off Vermont educational policy then we can make it work. And I really do believe we are headed in that direction."

Vermont has until Aug. 22 to submit its revised plan.

Fowler says some of the other states that got their plans in early also have to submit additional information, and she said she wasn't surprised that Vermont was asked to turn in more information.

“This is part of a process and dialogue moving forward with the department to create a plan that satisfies the federal law while keeping in mind our Vermont education priorities,” Fowler said “In Vermont, we believe that if schools teach well and children are engaged and supported, young people will thrive – not just on tests, but in their communities and in the economic life of the state.”

Vermont Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe says the state had a telephone conversation with federal education officials before receiving the letter last week and she says the U.S.

Department of Education is seeking clarification on how Vermont will use the multi-year data.

“Our conversation with the U.S. Education Department was highly productive, and their questions helped us to think more deeply about several issues," Holcombe said. "I think the feedback will help us to ensure a final plan is of the highest quality."

The Agency of Education developed the state accountability plan during the past two years after holding meetings in every county in the state.

Millions of federal dollars, which mostly serve low income students, are at stake.

Sixteen states have already sent in their plans and the remaining states have until Sept. 18 to get their proposals to the Secretary of Education for approval.

So far Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey and New Mexico have had their state plans approved.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has final say over whether a plan meets the federal standards.