Having only served as Superintendent of Public Instruction for a month, I have already heard from many districts and school leaders around the state. Consistently, these groups share concern surrounding the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). As a department, we have received many questions about the Indiana Department of Education’s next steps relating to our new federal law, the federal law which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). In order to meet this new federal accountability, each state must submit a plan to the US Department of Education. The plan must indicate how ESSA will be implemented at the state level.
Carefully crafting Indiana’s ESSA plan is a priority for the department’s administration. We are on track to submit our state plan on time, and the plan will be created with significant input from key stakeholders across the state. Reengaging stakeholders with the intent of capturing meaningful input is essential to our plan’s success. The following are the steps we are taking to ensure the plan is developed on time and by Hoosier educators, administrators, parents, and other stakeholders.
State Plan Submission
Although the federal administration has ordered a 60-day pause on ESSA, Indiana will proceed toward our submission deadline. Clearly, we acknowledge there are many unknowns surrounding the USDOE. Please know, we are watching the USDOE updates closely. Regardless of the federal outcomes, IDOE will be a professional partner and give ESSA its due diligence. Recently, the US Department of Education gave states new submission timeline options. Options to submit the plan included an April or September submittal. The IDOE has notified the USDOE our intent to submit our final plan on September 18, 2017. Given such, we will have a vetted plan by late summer.
IDOE’s Division of Governmental Affairs Leading ESSA Plan Creation
The IDOE’s Director of Policy, Patrick McAlister, has been identified as our internal point person on ESSA implementation. The IDOE is committed to utilizing resources and tools from around the nation in order to take full advantage of ESSA and develop our best plan possible. Patrick is also developing a timeline which will be shared with stakeholders regarding engagement opportunities. Furthermore, he is leading a full review of the previous administration’s work on ESSA. Communication regarding the plan needs to be directed to Patrick. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch for our Community Input Opportunities
To ensure we develop a strong plan, we need input from all of our LEAs and valued stakeholders. This group includes, but is not limited to educators, business leaders, legislators, and other community members. In the next month, we will develop working groups of key stakeholders to support the department in the technical aspects of the plan. We are planning community meetings throughout the state to engage teachers, parents and community members on areas of the plan stakeholders believe are most important. We will share those dates in the near future. In addition to community meetings across the state and technical working groups, we are developing online options for public engagement. Finally, we plan to host a virtual community meeting which will be accessible to all stakeholders.
The IDOE is confident in the aforementioned approach and believes we will develop a strong ESSA plan to support our schools and enhance Indiana’s education for our students. Although much importance is placed on our ESSA focus, ESSA is not our only legislative focus. Many education bills are flowing through our own Statehouse. Mike Brown is your IDOE’s Director of Legislative Affairs. He has an impressive educational and professional background. Mike’s prior professional experience with Indiana’s Senate will serve us all well. However, as a reminder, your individual voice still needs to be heard by your local legislators. We will do our part; our department will remain diligent in the review, offering of input, and partnering with legislators. We will continue to work hard for our Indiana schools.