DeVos approves Delaware's education plan, first in the country


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Delaware’s school evaluation system will not include a Yelp-like, 5-star rating system. 

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos this week approved Delaware’s consolidated education plan, which sets up a system to evaluate schools based on cumulative index scores from numerous educational factors, and describes them as “exceeding,” “meeting,” or “meeting few” expectations.  

Formed under the guidelines of the Every Student Succeeds Act – a law that mandates school-accountability measures in exchange for federal funds – the ultimate plan was transformed from a draft introduced in March, which would have rated schools on a 5-star system. 

The Every Student Succeeds Act also eliminates designations of “Priority” and “Focus” for low-performing schools, Susan Keene Haberstroh, spokeswoman at the Delaware Department of Education, said in an email.    

“Currently-identified Priority and Focus schools will continue to implement their plans for improvement,” Keene Haberstroh said. “The ESSA plan provides for similar type of identification … Schools identified will be required to develop plans to address areas in need of improvement.”

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Delaware submitted the education plan to the federal government in April.

After a series of revisions prompted by correspondence between state and federal officials, the final plan on Tuesday became the first in the country to earn approval from the U.S. Department of Education.

It will be implemented during the coming school year. 

“My criteria for approval is clear: does the state’s plan adhere to the law? Delaware demonstrated their plan does, and so I am happy to approve it,” DeVos said in a statement.

The Every Student Succeeds Act became law in 2015, largely replacing the No Child Left Behind Act, a hallmark of President George W. Bush’s domestic agenda.

While there was initial doubt about ESSA’s future after Trump took office, DeVos has requested states move forward with the law.

States must submit ESSA plans in 2017 to remain in compliance with federal law.

According to a statement from the Delaware Department of Education the plan reflects “changes based on federal guidance, public feedback and feedback received from the Governor’s Office.” 

Rep. Kim Williams opposed the original 5-star rating system, arguing those grades don’t capture the full picture of a school.  Any evaluation, she said, should include factors such as the number of after-school programs and other activities offered, beyond simply test scores. 

“A test is not the only measure of a successful child,” she said. 

Contact Karl Baker at kbaker@delawareonline.com or (302) 324-2329. Follow him on Twitter @kbaker6

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