Tennessee's Every Student Succeeds Act plan has been approved

The U.S. Department of Education on Wednesday approved Tennessee's plan to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act.

"As more and more state plans come under the Department's review, I am heartened to see how states have embraced the spirit of flexibility under ESSA to improve education for individual students," U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in a news release.

ESSA, passed in December 2015 to replace the controversial No Child Left Behind legislation, limits the federal government's role in public education by granting states autonomy in evaluation of school and teacher performance. It also promises to curtail unnecessary student testing at the state and local levels.

Under Tennessee's ESSA plan, schools will have a new accountability framework by adopting an A-F letter grading system. The system is based on several indicators, including out-of-school suspensions and a variety of student achievement and growth data.

The plan also creates a school improvement continuum with a variety of specific, evidence-based intervention options that will allow for a more tailored approach to turn around the state's Priority schools.

Teachers and principals are supported under the new plan by creating more high-quality pipeline opportunities for prospective candidates to move into those roles and establishing new grant initiatives that focus on increasing innovation and diversity in the educator workforce.

The plan calls for more focus on the performance of English learners to better ensure students are supported.

"Our ESSA plan is built on what we've started in Tennessee and centered on the belief that every student should be ready for post-secondary when they graduate high school," said state Education Commissioner Candice McQueen in a news release. "Tennessee's education community helped us to create a strong plan that will help us take our work to the next level, and we look forward to continuing these partnerships now as we move forward."

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