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Education Secretary testifies before Senate on ESSA plan

Delaware Public Media

Delaware’s Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting was on Capitol Hill last week, testifying before the U.S. Senate Education Committee. She was discussing the state’s implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

ESSA is an Obama-era law granting more power to state and local governments to decide how to use federal education funds.

Delaware’s ESSA plan was rolled out at the start of the 2017-2018 school year. It seeks to cut student non-proficiency in half statewide by the end of the federal grant program in 2030.

Bunting says the state is monitoring the progress of subgroups as well as the overall population.

“When I’m talking with the superintendents I ask them to look at their data carefully and recognize the challenge of a particular subgroup,” said Bunting. “In some cases, it’s our special needs students, or students with disabilities, sometimes it’s our English learner population, sometimes it’s the children who are living in poverty.”

Bunting adds Delaware’s plan includes measures to improve career readiness among high school students.

“We have some very thriving career and technical programs going in our high schools and we hope to get more and more students to perhaps have, for example, an industry credentialing and a chance for an internship--something that would pave the way for a career later on,” she said.

A new electronic report card will be made available this December. It will track the academic progress of student populations, as well as the use of funding statewide, among districts and at individual schools.

Delaware is receiving more than $78.6 million in ESSA grants for fiscal year 2019.

An advisory group made up of local stakeholders played a strong decision-making role in formulating Delaware’s ESSA plan—the first approved by the U.S. Dept. of Education in August 2017.

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