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Reports from Policy Analysts

Arizona's ESSA Plan Approved

Submitted On: Sunday, September 10, 2017

Analyst: Parker, Tricia

Three days ago, on September 2, 2017, the US Department of Education approved Arizona’s plan under ESSA. In her approval letter, Secretary DeVos commended Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, ADE Superintendent Diane Douglas, and the many stakeholders involved in crafting the plan in this AZED NEWS (Arizona School Boards Association) article.

ADE (the public comment process was opened in May, 2016) and the Arizona Educational Foundation actively solicited feedback on Arizona’s ESSA goals during the 2016-2017 school year, after a draft plan was released on September 7, 2016.

Also last week, final 2016-2017 AzMERIT scores were released. AzMERIT is the assessment instrument that replaced AIMS (Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards), the measurement instrument under NCLB. Arizona ESSA plan indicates that AzMERIT trend data is still being reviewed to determine long-term goals and measurements.

Arizona’s new ELA standards are in a transitional implementation year (2017-2018) before full implementation in 2018-2019. AzMERIT will be aligned to the new standards starting with the spring 2019 exam.

The recent Thomas B. Fordham Institute report, which analyzes states’ ESSA accountability plans, gives “strong” (its highest) ratings to Arizona in all three of its categories (clear labels, focus on all students, and fair to all schools).

On its web site (May 2017), American Institutes for Research (AIR, the group that contracted with Arizona to write its ESSA measurement instrument, the AzMERIT), curated a list of “Top 10 Ideas From the First State ESSA Plans” with respect to teacher shortages. AIR compliments Arizona for supporting new teachers by committing to “establishing and improving new teacher induction programs” in its ESSA plan.

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