Betsy DeVos calls Kay Ivey, tells her US Dept. of Education approved Alabama ESSA plan

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Governor Kay Ivey on Monday announced that Alabama’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) state plan was approved by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Ivey received a phone call Monday morning from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos informing her of the decision.

The Alabama ESSA state plan was submitted to the ED in October by the Alabama State Board of Education. The framework for the ESSA plan is provided by the ED; however, the indicators found in ESSA are specific to Alabama and many come directly from Alabama Ascending, the strategic plan for the future of education in Alabama.

“I had a great conversation with Secretary DeVos about education in Alabama and was glad to receive her call regarding our state ESSA plan. A great deal of thanks must be given to interim State Superintendent Dr. Ed Richardson and Dr. Joe Morton who both worked deliberately and with diligence to help us craft a plan that would meet the requirements of the U.S. Department of Education but also do what is best for Alabama students,” Ivey said. “This plan will help guide Alabama to a better education start for all students and give them the foundation they need to be successful in their future careers.”

Focus of the plan

The state ESSA plan focuses on:

  • the needs of students and teachers around the state including adding National Board Certified math and science teachers in hard to staff areas;
  • and improving the Alabama Reading Initiative and increasing the overall number of highly qualified teachers.

In the FY19 budget, Ivey requested a substantial increase to help hire National Board Certified Teachers in math and science into hard to staff areas, $4 million to improve the Alabama Reading Initiative, and $725,000 in scholarships for students training to teach math and science. Each of those requests were enacted for the upcoming fiscal year.

ESSA timeline

The state began work on its state ESSA plan in January 2016 and the draft plan was first released for public comment in July 2017. The finalized plan was submitted to the ED in October 2017. In December 2017, the ED sent a letter asking for more details on how Alabama planned to implement certain provisions of ESSA. The updated plan with input from many stakeholder organizations was submitted on February 13, 2018.

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