State delays education plan

COLUMBUS (AP) — State officials will spend more time reviewing public feedback before sending federal regulators Ohio’s education and accountability plan under the law that replaced No Child Left Behind.

Ohio intended to submit its plan early next month but instead will wait until a September deadline to submit the final plan and, in the meantime, carefully consider the feedback that officials have received, state Superintendent Paolo DeMaria said. He said submission of the plan should be a unifying moment of consensus for education in Ohio, but that it instead has been divisive.

Some educators have raised criticisms about the draft, particularly objecting that it wouldn’t reduce standardized testing of students. Some also have urged Ohio officials to use more specific descriptions to categorize school districts on state report cards and to make it easier to understand those evaluations.

DeMaria rebuffed critics’ claims that Ohio’s draft plan had ignored public feedback on such issues, noting that its development took a year and involved 15,000 Ohioans.

He announced that he will convene an advisory committee to consider the issue of Ohio’s list of tests, which to be altered would require changes in state law. Ohio has 24 tests, more than the 17 required under the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, that gives states more control over schools and education policy.

The state announcement Monday about delaying the plan’s submission came the same day that the U.S. Education Department shared new accountability guidance for identifying and assisting struggling schools under ESSA. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said those new rules give states more flexibility, but some critics complained that the guidance leaves parents and other local stakeholders out of the discussion.

A spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Education said the new federal guidance didn’t affect the state’s decision to delay submitting its plan.

The delay was applauded by the Ohio Federation of Teachers, as well as members of the state school board and lawmakers who lead education committees in the state Legislature.