April-May-June 2016

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Work Begins on the New Every Student Succeeds Act State Plan
By Laurie Matzke, Assistant Superintendent
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law on December 10, 2015. It reauthorizes the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was previously reauthorized as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
The new law officially takes effect on July 1, 2017. The 2016-2017 school year is being referenced as a transition year.
As part of the initiative, each State Educational Agency (SEA) must create a consolidated State Plan to outline how the state intends to implement the new law. North Dakota will submit its state ESSA plan to the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) in January 2017.
Superintendent Baesler has formed an ESSA Planning Committee. The committee members, representing a multitude of stakeholder groups, were each sent a letter inviting their participation on the committee.
The state ESSA Planning Committee will convene to prepare the state’s application for a comprehensive plan. The first committee meeting will be held on May 17, 2016, at the state Capitol.  The ESSA Planning Committee member's list can be found on the department’s website.
The ESSA law bring a new opportunity for states, districts, and schools for increased flexibility to promote innovation. I hope you will accept my offer to be part of the planning process. Together, all stakeholders can generate a plan that encompasses the components North Dakotans value and support.

ESSA Statewide Planning Committee

Program Improvement Updates
In March 2016, the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI) held two webinars to outline a new opportunity available to North Dakota regarding the 2015-2016 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) reporting and the ramifications for program improvement based on the 2016 North Dakota State Assessment.

We asked administrators to take a brief survey and indicate their choice for moving forward on this issue. The NDDPI compiled the survey results and announced that we will move forward with option 2, as it was a landslide decision (99%). This option includes that NDDPI does not generate AYP reports for schools and districts based on the 2016 North Dakota State Assessment and freeze Program Improvement for the 2016-2017 school year.

In April, some key updates were provided at the ESSA Regional Workshops and the workshop handouts are posted on our website. The program improvement key updates included the overview of program improvement, information regarding addendums, additional funds application, and key reminders are available.

The following chart outlines the program improvement overview for the 2016-2017 school year.
  • 2016-2017 Program Improvement and AYP Freeze
  • 2015-2016 North Dakota State Assessment results will not be counted for accountability and program improvement for the 2016-2017 school year.
  • No AYP reports will be generated on 2015-2016 North Dakota State Assessment
  • Current schools and districts will be frozen in program improvement for 2016-2017 school year.
  • No AYP parent letter will be required as no AYP reports will be generated.
  • Schools and districts in years 1 and 2 on the program improvement timeline must set-aside 10% for professional development. No school choice or supplemental education services required; must document alternate services on consolidated application.
  • No new program improvement plans/corrective action/alternative governance documents will be due to NDDPI; program improvement will be frozen, so all prior year documents utilized.
Applications for Additional Program Improvement Funding (SFN 60839) are due June 1, 2016. Applications for Additional Program Improvement Funding will be approved in June so implementation begins in July 2016.

NDDPI must still generate report cards/profiles and notify parents.
On July 1, 2017, the ESSA law officially begins. All North Dakota schools and districts get a clean slate and start over under North Dakota’s ESSA accountability plan.
In addition, please note updates on the following program improvement provisions:
Title I 10% Set Aside for Professional Development
As you know, program improvement identifications under NCLB are frozen for the 2016-2017 transition year. At the Regional Workshops we announced that several states have posed a request to the USDE to make the 10% set aside requirement optional for the transition year just like they did for the SES provision. The USDE has released guidance on this issue indicating that districts must adhere to this requirement for the 2016-2017 school year. Listed below is the language received from the USDE:
“Yes, an LEA must continue to set aside ten percent of its Title I, Part A allocation for professional development in schools in year one or two of school improvement status. LEAs that receive fiscal year (FY) 2016 Title I, Part A funds must continue to implement the interventions applicable to schools or LEAS in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring in the 2016-2017 school year in accordance with NCLB requirements as they existed in the 2015-2016 school year. These interventions include the ten percent set aside for professional development in schools in year one or two of school improvement status. Professional development is central to the requirement of supporting teachers to improve student achievement.”
Applications for Additional Program Improvement Funding
As announced at the ESSA Regional Workshops, schools and districts currently identified for improvement under NCLB are frozen and will remain in improvement for the 2016-2017 transition year. Schools identified for improvement are eligible to apply for program improvement funding. Information and guidance was disseminated at the regional trainings and can also be accessed on the NDDPI website. The program improvement documents are within the General Session II handouts. As a reminder, the applications are due June 1, 2016.
Supplemental Educational Services (SES) Transition Plan Posted
As announced in recent USDE guidance for the 2016-2017 school year, states are not required to ensure that LEAs with schools identified as in need of improvement, corrective action, or restructuring provide supplemental educational services, public school choice, and the related notice to parents; however, states must ensure LEAs provide students eligible for supplemental educational services with interventions and develop and implement a one-year transition plan to support the orderly transition to the ESSA. North Dakota's transition plan is posted on the NDDPI website