MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama's state school board will likely approve their version of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) on Thursday, but some parents are against the plan they say excludes kids from the evaluation plan.
"I don't know if anyone is going to be 100 percent comfortable when we approve it in October on Oct 12, " Dr. Ed Richardson, interim state superintendent, said.
Parents of special education students, like Corrie Merchant, have gone to the last couple state school board meetings hoping to raise concerns with the plan, only to be denied a chance to speak. Because the ESSA plan was not on the agenda, speaking on the plan would have violated procedure.
Merchant and other parents' concerns focus on subgroups and the number needed in a subgroup in order for them to count in a school's evaluation.
Under the plan, a subgroup could be a group of students by race, poverty, special needs and more. If the students in a subgroup's "N count" or number of students, are not more than 20, they do not impact the evaluation process under the ESSA plan.
"In essence," Merchant said, "they would not meet the need to be evaluated."
The state, in its ESSA plan, said it decided on the number 20.
Parents like Merchant, though, said by requiring at least 20 kids in a subgroup, it reduces the accountability schools face, and increases the likelihood of students falling through the cracks. Merchant is requesting the "N group" number be reduced to 15, to include more kids in the evaluation process.
Even if the plan passes on Thursday, Dr. Richardson said there will be time for some changes.
"We have that 120 days window and I'm going to encourage everyone to look at it, to refine it, to get it closer to what we can live with,"Richardson said.