State education board develops new accountability plan for schools
State education officials have developed an accountability framework for measuring schools under a new federal law.
The Illinois State Board of Education earlier this week submitted its plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act to the U.S. Department of Education outlining a new vision of evaluating and supporting public schools. It will be implemented starting with the 2017-18 school year.
ESSA was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2015. It replaces the federal No Child Left Behind Act that served as the benchmark for how schoolchildren were faring.
"Our ESSA State Plan portrays a multidimensional picture of learning and supports the whole child as she or he develops," State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith said. "Our accountability system considers school climate, fine arts, chronic absenteeism, college and career readiness, and English Learner proficiency, in addition to academic growth, graduation rate and attainment. Our plan places new emphasis on growth and focuses on sustaining school improvement through leadership and capacity building, rather than short-term gains."
The plan was developed in stages after 100 listening tours statewide over 16 months to gather input from educators, administrators, school support staff, parents and taxpayers. The state board unanimously approved the plan March 15, and it was later signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
"Accountability should be educative, providing information the school community can learn from; equitable, recognizing the unequal circumstances of Illinois' students and educators; non-punitive, seeking to support struggling schools; and should consider multiple measures of school quality, beyond just academic attainment," Smith said.
School quality will be measured through standardized tests, alternative assessments, academic growth, English language proficiency, science scores, success on college entrance tests, and graduation rates, as well as factors such as chronic absenteeism and school climate surveys.
Schools will be designated among four tiers starting with the 2018-19 school year:
• Tier 1, Exemplary School: Has no underperforming subgroups, a graduation rate greater than 67 percent, and performance is in the top 10 percent of schools statewide.
• Tier 2, Commendable School: Has no underperforming subgroups, a graduation rate greater than 67 percent, yet performance is not in the top 10 percent of schools statewide. Tier 1 and 2 schools may apply to coach other schools as members of a preapproved network of partners.
• Tier 3, Underperforming School: One or more subgroups is performing at or below the level of "all students" in the lowest 5 percent of Title I schools. Such schools would receive targeted support.
• Tier 4, Lowest Performing School: In the lowest-performing 5 percent of Title I schools in Illinois and those high schools that have a graduation rate of 67 percent or less. Such schools would receive comprehensive support.
Every school also will receive a grade, specifically for growth, on an A through F scale beginning with the 2019-20 school year. Grades will be determined based on an annual comparison with similar schools in the state.
School quality measures will be included in the Illinois School Report Card. For key elements of the state ESSA plan visit isbe.net/essa. The complete plan can be viewed at isbe.net/Pages/ESSA-Draft-Report. aspx.
The Department of Education has 120 days to review Illinois' plan, provide feedback on it and approve the plan.