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Florida Dept. of Ed seeks public comment - have your voice heard!

The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) is seeking public comment on the draft plan they have developed for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that was signed into policy Dec. 2015. Having our voices heard on this particular policy is a matter of  taking care of and investing in our region’s greatest assets: our children. The Jacksonville Public Education Fund is committed to activating neighborhood voices to inform, advocate for and support excellent teachers, school leaders and school culture. To that end, we are encouraging public education advocates, parents and community members to submit feedback on the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) draft state plan before the July 31 deadline.

At the conclusion of this comment window, the FDOE will analyze the feedback and revise the draft state plan accordingly before providing to Governor Rick Scott, as required. Finally, by September 18, the deadline set by the federal government, the FDOE will submit the state plan to the U.S. Department of Education.

The draft state plan was developed in accordance to the ESSA policy implementation timeline that was posted here. ESSA replaces the 2001 No Child Left Behind policy.

The ESSA’s major changes from the NCLB include the following:

  • Adding standards to prepare students for college and career success.

  • Shifting student and school performance evaluations from national, test-based criteria to state-determined, multifaceted measures.

  • Allowing states to more specifically target accountability intervention efforts to the lowest performing schools and adding dedicated funding for low-performing schools.

  • Adding funding to expand access to high quality pre-schools.

You can learn more about the history of ESSA and education policies preceding it here.

The FDOE provided opportunities for public comments throughout the entire process. They have used the feedback from these comments to shape their draft state plan and are ready to hand it over to Floridians to review one more time. Engaging in this particular step in the process is important as it will likely be the last chance for public comment before the final draft is developed and sent to the US Department of Education.

The flexibility of the ESSA allows states to focus on different opportunities for innovation. Florida is focusing on the accountability systems to improve student achievement in all subgroups and narrow the achievement gaps. Florida will be requesting five waivers to accomplish this

  1. Report subgroup performance on the components of the school accountability system but base the calculation and grade on all students.

  2. Calculate the 95 percent tested threshold at the all students level, evaluate individual schools’ performance data if testing below 95 percent to determine if the school should receive a grade, and calculate achievement results based on the students tested.

  3. Use the English language arts assessment to measure English Language Learners’ (ELL) progress and do not add an English language proficiency on the English language acquisition test (ACCESS for ELLs 2.0) measure to the school accountability calculation.

  4. Expand the 8th grade math exception from double testing to grades lower than 8th grade and to include high school science.

  5. Waive the requirements surrounding providing native language assessments.

The waiver request document with more in-depth information on these can be found here.

The format of the plan is the U.S. Department of Education state plan template, which is organized into nine sections.

Florida’s online survey for public comment is organized by the nine sections of the state plan. First you will enter your name, group represented, organization and county. You can select any or all of the sections and there is a comment box for each section. There is also a comment box for the waiver request document.

The nine sections of the state plan are:

  1. Title I, Part A:  Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies

  2. Title I, Part C:  Education of Migratory Children

  3. Title I, Part D:  Prevention and Intervention Programs for Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk

  4. Title II, Part A:  Supporting Effective Instruction

  5. Title III, Part A:  English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement

  6. Title IV, Part A:  Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants

  7. Title IV, Part B:  21st Century Community Learning Centers

  8. Title V, Part B, Subpart 2:  Rural and Low-Income School Program

  9. Title VII, Subpart B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act: Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program

Each section of the survey includes a link to the corresponding section of Florida’s draft state plan for your convenience. A link to the federal law on which the plan is based can be found at the end of the survey.

This public comment period will be open until July 31.

After you have done your part, encourage your friends and family to add their perspectives!  Share this with others on social media! Let’s encourage others to join in our shared duty to ensure that all of our city’s children have the opportunity to learn, develop and access a quality education system.