HIBOE TESTIMONY [6/20/2017]: State ESSA Plan
Good Afternoon Chairperson Mizumoto and members of the Board:
My Name is John Sosa, Executive Director, of Education Institute of Hawaii (EIH), and I am testifying on behalf of our organization.
As you prepare to discuss and consider final approval of the DOE’s ESSA plan, I strongly urge you to table this action until the new Superintendent transition is in place.
It only makes sense that the new superintendent be given an opportunity to review the plan prior to submittal. And there is time for that to occur. The Plan is not due until September of 2017, which would still provide time for a review by the new Superintendent and final approval by this board.
The plan could benefit from a more through review of the assessment component as the current plan relies almost exclusively on the Standardized tests scores as measures of success. There was lots of discussion by the DOE leadership on how schools would be allowed flexibility to develop alternate assessments but no clear outline on how those results would be included, if at all, in a schools review. We are still locked into a “standardized score” as measures of success. While it is unrealistic to think a new system would be developed and put in place in time for the submittal of this plan. A the very least we should began the process of seriously looking at the statewide assessment model, knowing it will take time to rethink and develop a more flexible accountability system, and free schools to truly innovate and reflect their successes. The Department has expressed no interest in dong this, in fact they express how daunting the task would be, yet the new Superintendent may see the value and wish to move in this direction.
There are differing opinions on how well the plan aligns to the Governors’ ESSA team Blueprint for Education. The new Superintendent in her limited public comments has expressed strong commitment to supporting the Blueprint and incorporating it into the DOE strategic Plan. We feel it is imperative to give her the opportunity to review the alignment before it is submitted to the USDOE.
States have been submitting ESSA plans to the USDOE and newly released reviews are providing insight into the level of detail the USDOE is asking from the states. By making use of the available time the Hawaii DOE could learn from those reviews and adjust the plan as necessary. For example The USDOE in reviewing Delaware’s plan is questioning if AP tests, or dual enrollment, and some vocational programs, can be used as a measure of college and career readiness, primarily because these programs are not necessarily present in all schools.
The initial messaging regarding the ESSA plans from the USDOE gave the impression that there was no reason state plans would not be approved, yet the review of three states to date, Nevada, Delaware and New Mexico is showing that the USDOE is asking for much more detailed information. This review is made more difficult in that some of the key parts of the ESSA are vague and confusing and subject to interpretation. So it makes sense to use available time to study other submittals and learn from the USDOE’s interpretation.
In closing, by tabling action the DOE could use the time to study carefully what these initial reviews are producing, give the New Superintendent the professional courtesy to weight in on the Plan BEFORE submittal, and for the Department to began to seriously look at it’s statewide assessment model to start the change process necessary to bring it to a point where future Strategic plans could reflect true measures of innovation at the school level.