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Feds Approve Vermont Education Plan For Every Student Succeeds Act

The U.S. Department of Education has approved Vermont's state plan required under the Every Student Succeeds Act.The new federal education law replaced No Child Left Behind, and states were asked to submit their individual plans for charting student progress to the Education Department.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced late Thursday that the plans from Vermont and Maine both complied with the education law, and that the states would be allowed to move ahead with their accountability systems.

This final plan approval comes after Vermont was asked earlier this month to provide further information about how student progress would be measured.

No Child Left Behind relied mainly on high-stake testing to grade how schools were performing. The new Vermont plan under ESSA will still use testing to measure school quality, but the state will also look at staffing, personal education plans, school climate and how schools are spending tax dollars.

The announcement from the U.S. Department of Education approving Vermont's plan also included the following statement from Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe:

“The Vermont State Plan reflects Vermont’s simultaneous goals of supporting our most vulnerable students while focusing on solutions that are practical and effective to meet our educational needs. We have worked hard to create a plan that values student success for all, both in the classroom and in preparing our students to be engaged and contributing citizens once they leave our schools.”

Vermont wanted to move away from grading schools, but the new federal education law carried over the ranking system, which was one of the hallmarks of No Child Left Behind.

The Agency of Education says the federal funding connected to the Every Student Succeeds Act makes up about 6.5 percent of the local spending in the highest poverty districts and about 3 percent of the total funds spent on education statewide.

Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state.
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