A special BESE meeting will be held this Wednesday March 29th at 1pm at the LDOE to discuss the Louisiana ESSA plan--- we are asking principals to attend this meeting to share your thoughts on the proposed plan. LAP ( Along with the Superintendents Association, the School Board Association, LAE and LFT) is asking for submission in September 2017 to allow for stakeholders to look at school/ district specific data to make the needed revisions prior to submission. Please see below the letter that was sent to BESE members and Superintendent White that outline many of the concerns that we have over the current plan!
LOUISIANA ASSOCIATION OF PRINCIPALS
103 Crawford Street
Winnfield, LA 71483
The Voice of School Based Administrators
Telephone: 318-648-2999 Web Page: www.laprincipals.org
Fax: 318-648-2990 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
March 24, 2017
TO: Superintendent John White
FROM: Debra H. Schum, LAP Executive Director
RE: ESSA and the Accountability Commission
I am formally requesting that the ESSA Plan submission for the State of Louisiana be made in September instead of April. There are several reasons why our organization (Louisiana Association of Principals) is making this request:
- Over the last 6 months the accountability commission met to discuss the changes that would be proposed to BESE regarding next year’s accountability formula and grading system. The majority of these meetings were spent discussing the growth component and which growth model to use, which left little time for discussion of other components of the Accountability formula. At the last accountability meeting held on February 17th there were several issues that were not allowed to come up for discussion ( ie, High School Grad Rate, ACT scores, and looking at the point values given for basic and mastery so that 68% of Elementary School scores would not have to be curved ). I, along with several other members of the commission stated that these issues needed to be discussed in an open meeting prior to the ESSA plan being submitted to BESE at the special March 29th meeting. We were told at that meeting that Jessica Baghian (LDOE Representative) would poll each of the members to find out specific items that could be placed on the agenda for a proposed meeting prior to March 29th. On Friday March 3rd, I received a letter from the chair of the Accountability Commission stating that a “majority” of the members had no further questions and that the questions that a “few of you had, can be answered through the regional meetings that are being hosted by the LDOE for Superintendents and Principals”! Also, Superintendent White indicated that the accountability commission would serve as the group to provide feedback of the overall ESSA plan, however our agendas were limited to specific items that were determined by the LDOE and members of the commission were not allowed to add agenda items and were given a very narrow scope as to what could be discussed.
- The final plan with specific details was not presented until March 3, 2017—so while a rough draft template has been out for over a year—the specific details haven’t even been out for a month.
- The LDOE scheduled 5 Regional Meetings for Superintendents and Principals to discuss the final plan between March 6th and March 21st, 2017. (The first meeting was the Monday immediately after Mardi Gras Holidays and the last meeting was on the day that Statewide ACT testing was administered in High Schools Across the state). LAP conducted a survey to see how many principals were able to attend and less than 10 % of those responding to the survey were able to attend due to the dates they were offered and the distance they would have to drive to get to a meeting for a 90 minute power point presentation.
- I attended the March 21st presentation for both Superintendents and Principals and was surprised to see that the information presented had changed significantly from what had been presented at the Accountability Commission meetings in regard to High School Performance Scores. At the Accountability Commission we were provided with information that stated that only 1% of High School Scores would need to be curved. At the meeting held on March 21st, one slide said that 6 % of High School Scores would be curved and 46% of High School Scores would drop in 2018 even with a curve. This was never presented to the Accountability Commission.
- A formula that requires a curve for 68% of Elementary and Middle Schools and causes 46% of High Schools to drop a letter grade even with a curve should be a red flag that the formula may need to be adjusted.
- Meaningful stakeholder input has not happened! The regional meetings that were held were briefings and did not allow for true discussion of the formula and components specific to each school and district.
- Other Areas that have not been addressed
- Interests and Opportunities clarity
- Clarity on teacher and principal evaluations in light of the scores dropping an average of 15 points with the new formula.
- There will be significant reductions in federal funding for title programs impacting local plans. Therefore, we request the department rely on the required 7% reservation and not exercise the optional 3% set aside.
- Also the proposed federal budget that was released on March 16, 2017 eliminates the entire Title II budget which may have significant impact on teacher and principal training and development and may affect the Believe and Prepare section of the current Louisiana ESSA plan. By submitting in September we will know the actual Federal Budget prior to submission.
- LAP conducted a survey of Principals regarding the ESSA Plan and Submission timeline
- 96% of Principals who responded to the survey were in favor of a September submission so true dialogue can occur and revisions can be made to the current plan before submission to the USDOE.
- 90% of Principals who responded to the survey indicated that the plan needed significant revisions.
- A majority of the comments made by principals made a plea asking BESE members to listen to them
- One respondent stated the following—“I think it is ironic that on the same day BESE is supposed to vote on submitting the “proposed” ESSA plan, our state Network is hosting a meeting on how to implement the ESSA plan for next school year. This leads me to believe that it is already decided. Why have the farce of a BESE vote?”
The September submission will provide our State the ability to continue utilizing existing accountability formulas while we compile actual student data aligned to the new set of expectations. ESSA allows for assessment flexibility and accumulation of two (2) years of data until implementation. It will also allow time for principals, Superintendents and the community to work with the LDOE to devise a plan that provides the best learning environment for our students to achieve academic success.
I am hoping that you will you will “listen” to principals (and others) from across the state and move that Louisiana’s ESSA plan be submitted to the USDOE in September 2017.
Debra H. Schum