Question: Who Are the ESSA “Peer Reviewers” Selected to Review State Plans?
According to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), state plans are to be reviewed by a group of individuals holding specific roles– and the reviewers are to be identified by name.
From the ESSA document (pages 20-21):
(4) PEER REVIEW AND SECRETARIAL APPROVAL.—
(A) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary shall—
(i) establish a peer-review process to assist in the review of State plans;
(ii) establish multidisciplinary peer-review teams and appoint members of such teams—
(I) who are representative of—
(aa) parents, teachers, principals, other school leaders, specialized instructional support personnel, State educational agencies, local educational agencies, and the community (including the business community); and
(bb) researchers who are familiar with—
(AA) the implementation of academic standards, assessments, or accountability systems; and
(BB) how to meet the needs of disadvantaged students, children with disabilities, and English learners, the needs of low-performing schools, and other educational needs of students;
(II) that include, to the extent practicable, majority representation of individuals who, in the most recent 2 years, have had practical experience in the classroom, school administration, or State or local government (such as direct employees of a school, local educational agency, or State educational agency); and
(III) who represent a regionally diverse cross-section of States;
(iii) make available to the public, including by such means as posting to the Department’s website, the list of peer reviewers who have reviewed State plans under this section;
(iv) ensure that the peer-review teams consist of varied individuals so that the same peer reviewers are not reviewing all of the State plans;
(v) approve a State plan not later than 120 days after its submission, unless the Secretary meets the requirements of clause (vi);
(vi) have the authority to disapprove a State plan only if—
(I) the Secretary—
(aa) determines how the State plan fails to meet the requirements of this section;
(bb) immediately provides to the State, in writing, notice of such determination, and the supporting information and rationale to substantiate such determination;
(cc) offers the State an opportunity to revise and resubmit its State plan, and provides the State—
(AA) technical assistance to assist the State in meeting the requirements of this section;
(BB) in writing, all peer-review comments, suggestions, recommendations, or concerns relating to its State plan; and
(CC) a hearing, unless the State declines the opportunity for such hearing; and
(II) the State—
(aa) does not revise and resubmit its State plan; or
(bb) in a case in which a State revises and resubmits its State plan after a hearing is conducted under subclause (I)(cc)(CC), or after the State has declined the opportunity for such a hearing, the Secretary determines that such revised State plan does not meet the requirements of this section.
The link is dead: “404– page not found.”
The dead page apologizes and notes that many pages are moved to new urls. However, a search for the new url– or even for the original via “do not send me to the new page” request– yields nothing.
The page itself is noted as being last modified on 02/27/17.
The full text is below:
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
Calling Peer Reviewers for ESSA State Plans
The U.S. Department of Education (the Department) is seeking highly qualified individuals to serve in a critical role as peer reviewers of State plans, as required under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
Under the ESSA, States will build on their experience making progress toward providing a high-quality, well-rounded education for all students. On November 29, 2016, the Department published final regulations that govern consolidated State plans under the ESSA. To facilitate the development of State plans, the Department published a required Consolidated State Plan template that aligns with the statutory and regulatory requirements. Under sections 1111(a)(4) and 8451(d) of the ESEA, the Department must facilitate a review by external peer reviewers of each State’s plan.
The ESSA requires that the Department establish multi-disciplinary peer review teams and appoint members of such teams that include:
- Educators (e.g., teachers, principals or other school leaders, or specialized instructional support personnel);
- State and local educational agency personnel;
- Researchers who are familiar with the implementation of standards, assessments and accountability systems; and
- Researchers who are familiar with how to meet the needs of disadvantaged students, children with disabilities, and English learners, the needs of low-performing schools, and other educational needs of students.
To the extent practicable, the peer reviewers should represent a regionally diverse cross-section of States and include individuals who have had practical experience in the classroom, school administration, or State or local government (such as direct employees of a school, district, or State) in the past two years.
Peer reviewers will work individually and on a panel to evaluate whether each State plan meets statutory and regulatory requirements and the degree to which each State plan will support a comprehensive and coherent set of improvements in the areas of: consultation and performance management; academic assessments; accountability, support, and improvement for schools; supporting excellent educators; and supporting all students. Peer reviewers will make recommendations to the Department to inform our review and approval of each State’s plan.
Questions about this request for peer reviewers may be sent to ESSA.PeerReview@ed.gov.
We are no longer accepting applications at this time.
Peer reviewers must commit to the following review process:
- Virtual peer reviewer training for approximately four hours during the week of March 21, 2017;
- Read and provide detailed comments during off-site individual review for four-five State plans between April 3 and May 3; and
- Participate in a 5-day panel review in Washington, DC in early May (specific dates to be established in early 2017).
The Department will conduct a second peer review process beginning in September 2017.
Conflict of Interest
Please be aware that any applicant’s selection as a peer reviewer for the State plan peer review will include a review for possible, apparent, and/or actual conflicts of interest. If a potential conflict of interest is identified, the Department will consider whether the applicant can participate as a peer reviewer in full compliance with all applicable Department policies and procedures designed to ensure the integrity of the Department’s process for reviewing and approving State plans.
Honorarium and Other Information
Peer reviewers will receive an honorarium for their time and effort, contingent upon satisfactory completion of the above requirements and consistent with the required schedule. Travel costs to the events in Washington, DC will also be covered.
- If these peer reviewers were “virtually” trained the week of March 21, 2017 (for four hours, at that), and are already reviewing plans as of the April 03, 2017, state plan deadline (the first round of state plan submissions), then the peer reviewers have been selected. (Note that the webpage last updated 02/27/17 was “no longer accepting applications at this time.”)
- If these peer reviewers have been selected, then they can (and should) be publicly identified. Otherwise, the public cannot know that the reviewers have indeed been selected and that these reviewers meet the criteria for review team membership.
- The language of ESSA implies that USDOE is not obligated to publicize reviewer names until after state reviews are completed (i.e., “(iii) make available to the public, including by such means as posting to the Department’s website, the list of peer reviewers who have reviewed State plans under this section”). However, this failure to publicize supposedly selected reviewers appears to run counter to promoting public faith in the “transparency” of the state plan review process. Indeed, publicizing reviewers after the fact keeps the public in the dark during the review process and makes it convenient for USDOE to compose a fake listing of reviewers with no reliable leverage for the public to know otherwise.
- USDOE’s deleting the call for peer reviewer webpage without a word and without offering any substitute to provide the public with information on this process seems bumbling as best and deceitful at worst. USDOE should not be deleting webpages designed to inform the public without offering further explanation.
- At the very least, USDOE should offer the public a definite date that it plans to release the names of the state plan reviewers.
- Given that USDOE has numerous senior-level official positions vacant, and given the market-driven-reform bent of USDOE, it is not unrealistic to expect that USDOE has somehow outsourced the entire ESSA state-plan review process. If that is true, the public deserves to know what organization(s) are involved in such outsourcing.
- How much are individuals and/or organizations being paid to review ESSA state plans? If outsourcing is happening, what are the costs, and are there conflicts of interest at work?
US ed sec Betsy DeVos owes the American public these answers.