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Michigan to Submit ESSA Plan to USED After Review by Governor Snyder

April 3, 2017

LANSING – The Michigan Department of Education has finalized its state plan for a more whole-child, well-rounded education for Michigan children and will submit it to the U.S. Department of Education (USED) after a review by Governor Rick Snyder.

The plan is required by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – the new federal law that replaced the previous No Child Left Behind Act. Every state is to develop a plan that it will use to improve educational outcomes for children and hold schools accountable and transparent for that success.

“This is an exciting moment in time,” said State Superintendent Brian Whiston. “This is a thoughtful and dynamic plan to keep Michigan schools moving forward. Michigan’s ESSA plan builds upon the goals and strategies outlined in the Top 10 in 10 initiative and the Governor’s 21st Century Education Commission.

States choosing to submit their plans this spring were to do so by April 3. With USED sending updated requirements and submission forms on March 13, it recognized that in some states, Governors may not have been provided their opportunity for a full 30-day review period by April 3 that is required by the federal law. As such, USED has allowed for a 30-day extension for Governors to review their state’s plan.

The Governor received the final plan on March 29 to begin his 30-day review and Whiston said he is excited that the process is moving forward. Following the Governor’s review, Michigan Department of Education will submit the plan to USED.

“By submitting the plan during the spring submission window, we are empowering Michigan to lead and be in charge of our own education destiny,” Whiston added. “This is showing that Michigan schools are ready now – to improve, to innovate, and to be student-focused.”

The concept of the federal law is to give schools more flexibility in how they meet the comprehensive needs of their students with tailored strategies for student and educator success, with less focus on compliance to federal requirements.

At its core, Michigan’s ESSA plan centers on Michigan’s children – their opportunity to learn; to access excellent educators and meaningful supports; and to successfully transition to college, career, and life.

The Michigan ESSA plan is the product of nearly a year of work, engaging thousands of stakeholders through work groups, community meetings, focus groups, online surveys, webinars, and general input from the public. It was developed through the inclusion and consultation with the Governor; State Board of Education; state legislature; and representatives from local school districts, schools, intermediate school districts, Michigan’s 12 federally-recognized tribal education departments, civil rights groups, education organizations, teachers, parents, students, business leaders, community members, and foundations.

“I said from the beginning of this work that we are going to put forward a plan that is best for the students in Michigan,” Whiston said. “This is how we move forward, and I want to thank all of the passionate people who provided input and helped inform this plan.”

Key components of Michigan’s ESSA Plan include:

  • Defining the purpose of school accountability as providing direct supports to the districts, rather than labeling and sanction.
  • A differentiated response to schools based on their academic need, with the most intensive interventions and supports being provided to those most in need.
  • A true focus on the whole child and the aspects of a well-rounded education, including not only academic subjects like fine arts and physical education, but also areas related to safety, health, school culture and climate, food and nutrition, early childhood, postsecondary transitions, and social-emotional learning.
  • Flexibility in the interventions and actions taken by districts and schools, rather than prescribed certain models or interventions. This plan helps local districts diagnose their needs across the whole child spectrum, identify evidence-based practices, and implement a plan that is tailored to their needs.
  • Integration and focus on alignment with early childhood initiatives and goals.
  • Educator quality that goes beyond a focus on “highly qualified” (which was required under NCLB), to supporting teachers and leaders throughout their careers.
  • Assessment systems that are designed to measure within-year student growth in addition to proficiency on rigorous content standards.
  • An accountability system that provides clear information to all stakeholders, based on areas that relate to the progress toward being a Top 10 education state in 10 years.

When submitted, the plan will be reviewed by USED staff, as well as a structured peer review process for specific sections of the plan.  ESSA law provides the U.S. Secretary of Education 120 days to review and approve state plans.

Attached is a one-page explanation of the benefits to submitting Michigan’s ESSA Plan in the spring.