Peer Reviews of State ESSA Plans
June 30, 2017

One of the most highly-anticipated reports in the sector went live this week as the Collaborative for Student Success and Bellwether Education Partners shared their independent review of state ESSA plans. Key findings are detailed in the Executive Summary, and advocates can view the detailed state feedback at

Following the April early deadline for states to submit their ESSA plans to the U.S. Department of Education, the Collaborative and Bellwether tapped 30 education policy experts with state-level experience and specific content knowledge to score the 17 first-round plans according to a rubric.

While each state received specific feedback, there were some consistent best practices the reviewers noted.

  • All 17 early submission states included year-to-year student growth measures.
  • Most states broadened their accountability systems beyond just reading and math.
  • Many states included a college-and-career readiness indicator.

Conversely, reviewers recommended states consider some common limitations.

  • Five states incorporated subgroup performance into school ratings, but many did not provide data on these subgroups.
  • Some states proposed norm referenced accountability systems, meaning they are only comparing schools to each other, not comparing results to what students need to know after graduation.
  • Most states didn’t articulate how they will use federal funds to drive improvement.

Several reviewers are from PIE Network partner organizations, including:

  • Dale Chu, America Succeeds
  • Aimee Rogstad Guidera, Data Quality Campaign (and PIE Network Board member)
  • Paige Kowalski, Data Quality Campaign
  • Claire Voorhees, Foundation for Excellence in Education
  • Kerry Moll, Stand for Children
  • Scott Sargrad, Center for American Progress
  • Christy Wolfe, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

Laura Mann

Laura is PIE Network's Senior Director, Communications, Standards, and Accountability

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