Aug 15, 2017

BATON ROUGE, La. - The Louisiana Department of Education today announced that the U.S. Department of Education has approved the state's plan to implement the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Louisiana's plan, which sets higher expectations for learning and invests in local plans for improving where schools and students are struggling, is among the first in the nation to earn this endorsement.

For more than a year, the Louisiana Department of Education collaborated with educators, parents, advocates, and business and community leaders to create an improved education system that provides all students with equal access and opportunity to high-quality learning. The state conducted 136 public meetings and shared the plan's framework on its website to solicit public feedback, and comments were received from more than 200 organizations and more than 1,000 individuals. The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) endorsed the plan at a special meeting in March 2017, and Louisiana submitted it for federal review in April 2017.

Louisiana's ESSA plan, which has garnered praise in nationwide reports, will:

  • Raise fundamental expectations for what it means to earn an "A" school rating in Louisiana.
  • Measure and reward academic growth for all students.
  • Reduce state, district and school-based testing.
  • Invest in partnerships to improve the most struggling schools.
  • Prepare the next generation of teachers under the mentorship of today's experts.

The Louisiana Department of Education will now move ahead with the following steps:

  • Publish drafts of policy revisions for review at this week's BESE meetings, with votes to approve the revisions to be taken at a future meeting.
  • Launch a competitive grant process to award funding to school systems with persistently struggling schools that submit evidence-based plans for improvement.
  • Convene a work-group of industry experts to develop the plan's Interest and Opportunities Index, a measure of school quality that will be based on the level of access students have to enriching experiences such as arts, music, and foreign language.
  • Host trainings for thousands of school system supervisors and teacher leaders.

"The U.S. Department of Education's approval of Louisiana's plan is another step in a long process of collaboration and hard work by thousands of Louisianans," said State Superintendent of Education John White. "But today's announcement is less a final step than a starting point. This plan calls for improvement for a generation of school children. It's time to get to work on making that improvement happen."

"We are very pleased to receive federal approval of Louisiana's plan," said BESE President Dr. Gary Jones. "As we proceed to the work on policy development and implementation, the Board thanks all of the educators, parents and other stakeholders who provided valuable input in this process. While much work lies ahead, Louisiana remains solidly on track to fulfilling its objectives of strengthening accountability, supporting schools and teachers, and improving educational opportunities for all Louisiana students."

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