DeVos approves Michigan's education plan

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced the approval of Michigan’s education state plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act on Tuesday. 

The Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to develop plans that address standards, assessments, school and district accountability and special help for struggling schools. Michigan originally submitted the plan in April that has been reviewed and revised. 

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced the approval of Michigan’s education state plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act on Tuesday.

Revisions were resubmitted on Nov. 15 and the U.S. Department of Education announced its approval by DeVos on Tuesday.

“Michigan’s plan meets the statutory requirements," DeVos said in a news release Tuesday. "As such, I have approved it ...

"While the plan meets the statutory requirements, Michigan must not view this as a ceiling, but rather as a baseline upon which to build, strengthen and expand."

State education officials were required to revise five insufficient parts of the plan as of Oct. 25. Revisions called for by the federal education department included determining long-term goals for academic achievement, clarity in "long-term goal and measurements of interim progress plans on English language proficiency" and "School Quality or Student Success Indicator(s)" for all students and separately for each subgroup of students that allow for meaningful differentiation in school performance, and are valid, reliable, comparable for the grade spans ..." 

Amber Arellano, executive director of the Education Trust-Midwest, called the approval a 'squandered' opportunity. 

"Michigan had the opportunity — and the responsibility — to develop the statewide improvement systems that have been so hugely successful at raising student achievement in leading education states such as Massachusetts and Tennessee," she said in a statement. 'That opportunity largely has been squandered — and that is a tremendous disservice to every Michigan student, but especially vulnerable children who need leaders at every level to insist on better outcomes for them." 

State Superintendent Brian Whiston acknowledged that the department has received final approval of the Every Student Succeeds Act plan.  

"We thank the U.S. Dept of Education for their willingness to work with us to get to 'yes' on a plan designed by Michigan stakeholders for Michigan's education system," Whiston said in the statement to The Detroit News Tuesday night.

"We also appreciate the input and collaboration of thousands of stakeholders in this process. We look forward to continuing to use our ESSA plan as one of vehicles toward becoming a Top 10 State in 10 years."

In April, Gov. Rick Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley criticized aspects of the plan. Calley asked federal officials to return the plan to Michigan to refine metrics for special education students. Snyder said he did not support one of the three accountability system proposed because it did not include letter grades for schools.

Arrellano said the Michigan Department of Education isn't delivering on the promise of access to high-quality schooling. 

"This plan demonstrates that the Michigan Department of Education is far more committed to a declining status quo than building the high-quality, honest improvement systems that could actually help Michigan become a top ten education state.”