Nevada Second State to have ESSA Plan Approved by U.S. Department of Education

Immediate Release

Carson City, NV August 09, 2017

Betsy DeVos, U.S. Secretary of Education informed Gov. Brian Sandoval today that Nevada’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan has been approved – the second state to receive federal approval. The approval is the culmination of 20 months of stakeholder engagement to craft a plan by Nevadans and for Nevadans.

“Today's call from Secretary DeVos was affirmation that Nevada is on the right track with our plans to improve education in our state,” Gov. Sandoval said. “Much of my legislative agenda has been focused on transforming our education system and if we achieve our goal to be the fastest improving state in the nation we will see many more of our students graduating from high school and continuing onto college and viable career pathways that will support Nevada’s new economy.”

The Nevada Department of Education listened to stakeholder feedback and anchored its plan around three high leverage strategies designed to place Nevada on track to become the fastest improving state in the nation. Those strategies are:

• Developing and supporting great school leaders
• Using data to inform decisions impacting Nevada schools
• Identifying and improving our lowest-performing schools

“We are gratified that we are the second state in the country to be approved thanks to the professionalism of the state department and the hard work of everyone who contributed to this effort,” said Elaine Wynn, President of the Nevada State Board of Education. “Nevada’s ESSA Plan takes advantage of the return of authority and flexibility to states to set policies that make sense for our unique context. Nevada seized this opportunity to create timelines for progress and develop school improvement plans that meet the needs of Nevada students.”

Nevada’s ESSA plan also outlines the updates contained within the state's new school performance framework. The updated star rating system is a holistic view of school performance. In addition to academic proficiency and an emphasis on growth in English language arts and math, Nevada is using science, school climate, opportunity gap closure, chronic absenteeism, and College and Career Readiness as point earning measures in its school performance framework. The result is a school accountability system with expectations that are aligned to a nationally competitive bar.

"Today's news is the culmination of so much hard and thoughtful work by many people throughout the state,” said Steve Canavero, Ph.D., Superintendent of Public Instruction. “I’m grateful for the hundreds of volunteers who participated in roughly 40 meetings. Nevada has a lot to be proud of with this plan; we have gotten high marks from both state level and national thought leaders. Now comes the hard part, making sure we deliver on the potential this plan holds for our kids.”

To achieve the goal of becoming the fastest improving state in the nation, the plan proposes to continue the many efforts already underway, such as the Zoom program for English Learners that leads to improved student achievement and the expansion of advanced coursework such as Advanced Placement which has led to Nevada being the fastest improving state in the nation for scores of three or higher.

In developing the plan during the past year, the Superintendent called together an advisory group that consisted of parents, teachers, principals, district superintendents, policy advocates, college professors, and business leaders to outline a path forward to address the needs of Nevada’s students. Additional work groups of stakeholders from across the state were convened to develop issue specific recommendations. The six additional work groups focused on Accountability, Assessment, English Learners, Funding Streams, School Improvement in addition to Teaching and Leading.

“The contribution of these individuals was nothing short of remarkable,” said Steve Canavero.