ESSA Fifth “SQ/SS” Indicator: What Are Other States Doing?

For the past five months, we have followed the development of Minnesota’s state accountability plan as mandated by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). While the US Department of Education (USDE) has defined what must be included in four of the plans' required indicators, states have the freedom to choose which measures they will include in their fifth indicator, of school quality/student success (SQ/SS).

As we’ve previously written, because of the lack of available data, chronic absenteeism was identified by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) as the only SQ/SS measure that’s currently feasible for Minnesota. However, on November 29th, USDE extended ESSA implementation by one year, giving MDE’s Advisory Committee additional time to create a well-rounded SQ/SS indicator that would, ideally, include more than chronic absenteeism.

While most states have not released their ESSA draft plans, thirteen have—Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington. Arizona, Idaho, Montana, and North Carolina, however, do not define what possible SQ/SS measures their state will use.

All of the other states, except South Carolina, indicated that they intend to use chronic absenteeism as one of their SQ/SS measures; with Delaware, Maryland, Tennessee, and Washington using it only for elementary and middle schools.

Two SQ/SS measures were prominent throughout the state’s draft plans—Career and College Readiness and 9th Grade On-Track. Below are descriptions of the measures.

College and Career Readiness Measure

Seven states—Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington—have some form of a College and Career Readiness measure that calculates a school’s performance on or access to Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), SAT, ACT, Career and Technical Education (CTE), and Dual Enrollment.

South Carolina’s measure is more complex, with high schools earning points based on the percentage of students who meet the College Ready/Career Ready benchmark, which is comprised of several different metrics, such as earning a 3 or higher on an AP exam or meeting ACT benchmarks in mathematics (22) and English (18).

Similarly, Tennessee’s measure, Ready Graduate, is calculated by multiplying the graduation rate and the highest percentage of students who do one of the following:

  • Score a 21+ on the ACT OR
  • Complete 4 Early Postsecondary Opportunities (EPSOs) OR
  • Complete 2 EPSOs and earn an industry certification

Washington’s measure is more prescriptive. It only has a metric for dual credit participation, which is measured by the percent of students who participate in a dual credit educational program.

Delaware is the only state whose measure includes a metric for elementary and middle schools. Specifically, Delaware uses a “growth to proficiency” metric, which measures the percentage of students on track to be at grade level in a given content area within three years.

Minnesota initially considered including a College and Career Readiness measure, but due to insufficient and misaligned data systems, the Technical Committee decided at the October 25th meeting to delay its inclusion.

9th Grade On-Track Measure

Three states—Illinois, Oregon, and Washington—indicated in their draft plans that they intended to use 9th-grade on track as a measure, which is the percent of first-time 9th grade students in a high school who do not fail a course.

Other SQ/SS Measures

Illinois: Early childhood education, which would be measured by kindergarten transition, pre-literacy activities, and academic gains. Unfortunately, the draft plan did not flesh out what “kindergarten transition” would measure, but it did indicate that it might not be ready for the 2017-18 academic year.

Illinois’ plan indicated that they may also use a school climate survey. Currently, Illinois uses the 5Essentials survey, which was developed at the University of Chicago and measures a school’s effectiveness in the following five areas:

  • Effective Leaders
  • Collaborative Teachers
  • Involved Families
  • Supportive Environments
  • Ambitious Instruction

Louisiana: Their ESSA Framework included a comprehensive list of SQ/SS measures that were divided into four categories:

  • Mastery of Fundamental Skills
  • Serving Historically Disadvantaged Students
  • Fair and Equitable Access to Enriching Experiences
  • Celebrating and Strengthening the Teaching Profession

Louisiana’s entire list of SQ/SS measures can be found here.

South Carolina: An “Effective Learning Environment Student Survey”, which would be administered every January to students in grades 4-12 and would include 29 items that measure topics on equitable learning, high expectations, supportive learning, active learning, progress monitoring and feedback, digital learning, and well-managed learning.

We will continue to report on ESSA updates in Minnesota and the country. MDE’s next ESSA Accountability meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 5th from 5:30-8:00 PM. For more information about MDE’s ESSA implementation plan, visit their website.

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