The Iowa Department of Education released its new plan Monday to meet the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. Department of Education director, Ryan Wise, says they put a lot of effort into the plan and got input from all across the state.
“We’ve said from the beginning this is about ensuring opportunity for all students and that is really state and locally driven, and that we would carry that through the entire process,” Wise says. The new federal legislation replaces the old No Child Left Behind, and Wise says it does something the old plan didn’t
“That is really a focus on ensuring that state and local districts are going beyond single-point in time measures on just math and English language arts — and really ensuring that schools are providing a well-rounded education for all students,” Wise says. The Department’s chief of the Bureau of School Improvement, Amy Williamson, says the plan sets out goals for districts.
“We wanted to make sure that we set these goals knowing that we wanted a high bar for all students. And we wanted to address the fact that there are achievement gaps between some groups of students and all students,” Williamson says. “And we wanted to make sure that we are aggressive in closing those gaps.”
She says the new plan focuses on helping districts that don’t meet their goals instead of punishing them.”When those criteria aren’t met, we can actually step up the support that we provide for schools,” Williamson explains. “And the way that we would do that is to implement more state approved improvement strategies that are evidenced based. And to direct more of the teacher leadership and compensation resources that districts receive toward implementation of the evidence-based strategies.”
Williamson says they will use assessments to set the goals for the schools and those goals will increase over time. The plan was submitted to the federal government Monday and federal officials have 120 days to look it over and respond.