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Accountability Pause for the 2020-2021 School Year


In response to the evolving conditions under COVID-19, the department is pausing the state and federal accountability systems in the 2020-21 school year. On March 18, the Governor issued an Executive Order pausing both state assessments and state accountability to enable schools and districts to focus on providing alternative learning opportunities for students during this time. The department has also applied for and received waivers from the U.S. Department of Education to get additional flexibility on federal requirements and use of funds. 

This webpage provides the latest decision on how the accountability pause will work; it will continue to be updated as events unfold and new policy decisions are made. [Last updated May 7th, 2020]

Description of the Accountability Pause

Building on the previous experience of accountability pauses (e.g., state pause in 2015-16 school year for assessment transition, federal accountability due to Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA) reauthorization), the department is proposing many of the same practices. The following are the proposed practices for 2020: Some adjustments may be needed as events continue to unfold. 

  • District and school plan types will continue to implement their 2019 ratings for the 2020-2021 school year. See the next section for an explanation on the hold process for ESSA identifications.
  • Districts and schools (including alternative education campuses) will not receive a 2020 performance framework, nor updated plan types. Preliminary and final reports will not be available.
  • The request to reconsider process will not be available in 2020-21.
  • The April 15, 2020, deadline for public posting of Unified Improvement Plans (UIPs) has been extended to May 15, 2020. For districts that need more time, the department is working to amend state rules to enable plan submissions by October 15th, 2020. The department is also considering moving the public posting deadline for all districts and schools to October 15th beginning in the 2021-2022 school year. See more details and provide feedback here
  • The 2020-21 UIP process will resume with the typical timeline (e.g., January 15, April 15), except for those districts using the 2019 flexibility which will submit in October. Without state level data, emphasis will be on local data. 
  • Training and supports will continue to be available upon request via phone and webinar through the remainder of the school year. Beginning in summer 2020, the department will release a more comprehensive listing of opportunities.

For Districts with Identified Schools through State or Federal Accountability

This section is aimed at districts and schools on Performance Watch under the state system (i.e., Priority Improvement, Turnaround, On Watch) and/or schools identified for support through ESSA (i.e., Comprehensive Support, Targeted Support).

  • In addition to retaining the 2019 plan type, schools and districts on Performance Watch (i.e., Priority Improvement, Turnaround, On Watch) will also retain their Performance Watch year without advancing (e.g., a school on Year 4 of the accountability clock in 2019-20 will remain on Year 4 in 2020-21). For more information, please view the Accountability Pause: Effects on Accountability Requirements Fact Sheet.
  • The State Board of Education will not hold any clock hearings in 2020-21, unless the district opts for early action. This includes sites in year 4 that were preparing for hearings in 2020-21, as well as sites that have had previously directed action and were scheduled to reappear before the board. Districts that opt for early action will be prioritized for a State Review Panel visit when they resume.
  • Progress monitoring will continue for sites that have received directed action from the State Board of Education.
  • The department will contact districts about scheduling and re-scheduling State Review Panel visits and recommendations.
  • Schools identified for Comprehensive (CS) or Targeted Support (TS) and Improvement, under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), will maintain their 2019 identification category pending approval from the U.S. Department of Education.
  • UIPs submitted in May 2020 from CS schools will receive feedback over the summer and will have extended time for implementation of any required changes until 2020-2021 UIPs are submitted.
  • Schools identified for support and improvement under ESSA (both CS and TS) in 2019 or through the state accountability clock will continue to be eligible for supports and funding through the EASI grants in 2020-2021. Continue to work with your assigned support coordinator.