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U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos visits two Gary schools

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos chats with 21st Century Charter School student Kenyatta Edmond as principal Anthony Cherry looks on during a Sept. 15, 2017, visit to the Gary school.

INDIANAPOLIS — The U.S. Department of Education has approved Indiana's plan to adjust its academic offerings to comply with the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos last week ratified six state ESSA plans, including Indiana's, which she said should be viewed as "a starting point, rather than a finish line, to improve outcomes for all students."

ESSA replaced the state student achievement mandates imposed by the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act with flexible guidelines that allow each state to decide how it can best meet the educational needs of its children.

Among other goals, Indiana's plan sets a target of closing achievement gaps in English and mathematics for all student subgroups by 50 percent no later than 2023.

It also relies on multiple measures to evaluate the college- and career-readiness of high school students, such as earning college credit or industry certification while in high school.

"From the beginning, we set out to build a plan that responded to the needs of Hoosier students," said Jennifer McCormick, Indiana's superintendent of public instruction.

"From our clear accountability system to our innovative, locally-driven approach to school improvement, our ESSA plan was designed to support student success."

The State Board of Education this month began the process of aligning Indiana's A-F school accountability ratings to match the new ESSA targets.

Hoosier lawmakers also are working to merge the state's four current high school diplomas into a single ESSA-compliant credential.

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Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.