December 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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Contact:    Katie Linehan

Phone:      402.915.3257

E-mail:      Katie@EducateNebraska.org

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Independent Analysis Critical of Nebraska’s K-12 Accountability Plan

Report underscores weaknesses of state’s plan, lack of support for vulnerable students.

Omaha, NE (December 12, 2017) – A new analysis of state accountability plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) finds Nebraska’s education plan falls short.

More than 45 bipartisan peer reviewers participated in the report, released today by the Collaborative for Student Success and Bellwether Education partners, including eight former state chiefs, 14 former teachers, state education leaders, members of the civil rights and disabilities communities, and education experts from around the nation.

Governor Ricketts has also been critical of Nebraska’s ESSA plan, declining to add his signature prior to the Nebraska Department of Education’s final submission to Secretary DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education in September.

Across nine categories, Nebraska received the lowest marks possible in three areas: creating incentives for school improvement, ensuring all children receive a high quality education, and identifying schools in need of intervention. The plan received slightly less critical marks (2 out of 5) in three areas. In no area did Nebraska receive high marks (4 or 5 out of 5).

A rewrite of the civil-rights era legislation, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, millions of dollars in federal funding is tied to compliance with the Every Student Succeeds Act. The U.S. Department of Education has yet to approve Nebraska’s plan.

“The purpose of this law is to ensure every child, regardless of race or income, has access to a high quality education,” said Katie Linehan, executive director of Educate Nebraska, “Nebraska has among the largest achievement gaps in the nation and, as this report confirms, our ESSA plan does little to address those.”

The report comes on the heels of troubling data released by the Nebraska Department of Education in recent weeks regarding student performance on the ACT. The state’s largest district, Omaha Public Schools, saw a notable decline in student performance on state assessments in math and reading at the elementary and middle school level as well.

In the 2016-2016 school year, using Nebraska’s academic standards, only 28% of black students, 34% of Hispanic students, and 58% of white students across the state were proficient in English. And only 44% of black students and 58% of Hispanic students were proficient in math, compared to 80% of white students. At many high schools where a majority of the students are children of color, less than 15% of juniors are on track to pass a college course upon graduation.

“Nebraska’s education establishment continues to resist adult accountability for student outcomes,” said Linehan, “the ESSA plan makes that clear and, without reform, kids in Nebraska will continue to suffer the consequences at taxpayers’ expense.”

Educate Nebraska focuses on expanding high quality school choices, empowering effective educators, and utilizing meaningful data to drive improvement. To learn more, visit www.EducateNebraska.org.