Harrisburg, PA – Last evening, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) submitted the final version of their plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to the U.S. Department of Education for approval. Below is a statement from Jonathan Cetel, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Campaign for Achievement Now (PennCAN) on the final version:
“After reviewing the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (PDE) final version of their ESSA plan, we are disappointed to see that no meaningful changes were made to address the concerns voiced by the education reform community and leaders in the General Assembly.
Federal law is clear that each state must provide a time period for the public to review and provide feedback on the plan. Though PDE followed the letter of the law in a procedural sense, they chose to ignore an opportunity to collaborate with stakeholders who voiced opposition to the plan – including members of the General Assembly who PDE was required to consult with.
Unfortunately, the Wolf Administration’s unwillingness to work in a bipartisan manner on the ESSA plan has left our Commonwealth in an uncertain situation. PDE’s final product is, at best, subpar due to an overall lack of detail, the inclusion of an initiative to move away from a school grading system (something many other states plan to actually implement through ESSA) to a dashboard that provides less transparency and accountability, and no clear plan to turnaround chronically low-achieving schools. At worst, PDE’s plan is in violation of several parts of the federal law and could be subject to rejection from Secretary DeVos.
PennCAN supports chairmen Eichelberger and Hickernell in their plan to reach out to the U.S. Department of Education and share their concerns with PDE’s ESSA plan. It is our hope that Secretary DeVos and her team will review all the public comments/recommendations and consider these (along with the plan’s merits and rigor) in her approval or disapproval of the plan.”