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Ivey announces that feds approve state’s ESSA Plan

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced on Monday that the U.S. Department of Education approved the state’s educational plan.

Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) reforming federal involvement in Alabama education.

“I had a great conversation with Secretary DeVos about education in Alabama and was glad to receive her call regarding our state ESSA plan.” Ivey said. “A great deal of thanks must be given to interim State Superintendent Dr. Ed Richardson and Dr. Joe Morton who both worked deliberately and with diligence to help us craft a plan that would meet the requirements of the U.S. Department of Education but also do what is best for Alabama students. This plan will help guide Alabama to a better education start for all students and give them the foundation they need to be successful in their future careers.”

“Alabama’s plan builds a solid foundation and gives us a springboard from which to launch important improvement initiatives including the governor’s Strong Start, Strong Finish program,” Alabama state Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey said.“By incorporating high academic standards and clear expectations with plans for greater student engagement and achievement, Alabama stands ready to meet the rigorous demands of preparing students for the work force and for their roles as citizens in our democratic system. We are honored to have our plan approved, and now we go to work on its implementation.”

Alabama began work on its state ESSA plan in January 2016, the draft plan was first released for public comment in July 2017. The finalized plan was submitted to the Department of Education in October 2017. In December 2017, the Department sent a letter asking for more details on how Alabama planned to implement certain provisions of ESSA.

The updated plan with input from many stakeholder organizations was submitted on February 13, 2018.

Ivey received a phone call Monday morning from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos informing her of the decision.

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The Alabama ESSA state plan focuses on the needs of students and teachers around the state including adding National Board Certified math and science teachers in hard to staff areas, improving the Alabama Reading Initiative and increasing the overall number of highly qualified teachers.

Ivey, in the FY19 budget, requested a substantial increase to help hire National-Board-Certified teachers in math and science into hard to staff areas, $4 million to improve the Alabama Reading Initiative, and $725,000 in scholarships for students training to teach math and science.

Each of those requests were enacted for the upcoming fiscal year by the legislature in the 2019 budget.

According to the statement by the U.S. Department of Education, Alabama requires the state Superintendent of Education to develop a school grading system reflective of school and district performance and to create the Legislative School Performance Recognition Program. The state will use state-authorized assessments and other key performance indicators that give a total profile of the school or school system, or both.

The state of Alabama also promises to work with local education agencies to enhance early learning and improve coordination and alignment of early learning programs from birth through third grade.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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