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U.S. Dept. Of Education: Texas Must Make Big Changes To Education Accountability Plan

School lockers in a charter school hallway in November 2017.
File Photo |Camille Phillips | Texas Public Radio

The Texas Education Agency has less than a week to revise its plan to hold schools accountable, as required by the federal law known as the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The U.S. Department of Education asked the agency to make significant changes to its plan when it gave the state initial feedback just before the Christmas holiday.

For instance, the department said Texas’ plan to measure academic achievement should be based on the number of students who show grade level proficiency on standardized tests, not the number of students the state considers to be “approaching grade level.”

The department said the Texas plan waits too long to count the test scores of English language learners and refugees, and can only measure academic success based on math and reading tests. Texas wanted to include tests for science, social studies and writing.

Federal officials also said the state’s description for measuring graduation rates left open the possibility that some high schools would be left out of the count, and that was unacceptable.

They also want more detail on how Texas will improve access to highly qualified teachers.

The Obama-era overhaul to federal education policy known as the Every Student Succeeds Act gives states greater flexibility to define and measure school quality.

But state ESSA plans still need to be approved by the U.S. Department of Education in order for schools to receive federal funding.

Texas could have asked for more time to revise and re-submit its plan. However, TEA spokeswoman Lauren Callahan said the agency plans to meet the Jan. 8 deadline. TEA declined further comment until after the plans are submitted.

The Department of Education will then have until Jan. 23 to approve or deny the plan. The accountability plans are slated to take effect in August.

Camille Phillips can be contacted at Camille@tpr.org or on Twitter @cmpcamille

Camille Phillips can be reached at camille@tpr.org or on Instagram at camille.m.phillips. TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.