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Thursday / November 23

14 ESSA Updates for Every Educator

Now that the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has been signed into law, we’re keeping close tabs on national ESSA news as well as ESSA news from the eight most populous states in the union: CA, TX, FL, NY, IL, PA, OH, and GA. Our hope is that these brief round-ups will help you stay current on ESSA and better understand the impact of this new legislation on your role in education.

 

NATIONAL

Negotiated Rulemaking

The DoE has named the members (called negotiators) of the committee that will draft proposed regulations for Title I, Part A of ESSA – the only part of the law that contains issues slated for negotiated rulemaking. The committee will try to come to an agreement with the DoE on certain aspects of assessments and funding. The committee will convene on March 21-23, April 6-8, and possibly April 18-19. If the process fails, which it often does, the DoE will negotiate through the regular process of releasing a draft rule, receiving comments on it, and then releasing a final rule. Click the link to see what they’ll be discussing. EdWeek Blogs

Innovating Assessment

Under ESSA, seven states will get to pilot innovative assessment systems. New Hampshire is the first, and New York, Colorado, Maryland, and Vermont are interested. In participating districts in New Hampshire, standardized tests will be replaced with project-like assessments that are built into day-to-day learning. Politico

Decision 2016

The Obama administration will handle some of the transition to ESSA, but not all of it. The next president’s administration will have some say. If that president is a Democrat, the transition should be smooth, but if the next president is a Republican – and especially if it’s Trump – there may be delays. A Republican president’s education team would likely want to look at any regulations that have been drafted and make changes, especially if the Republican sponsors of the bill, like Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, aren’t happy with the way things are going. EdWeek Blogs

The Future of Teacher Evaluation

The Obama administration had worked to incentivize teacher evaluation, but ESSA allows states to back off from teacher evaluation if they so choose, The Atlantic argues. Research suggests that comprehensive teacher evaluation reforms have strengthened schools’ focus on instructional quality, but the question now is whether state and local education leaders will stay the course on teacher-evaluation reform. The Atlantic

Implications for Literacy

ESSA contains provisions for Literacy that have been largely overlooked to this point. For the first time, states must include English proficiency as one of three required academic indicators in their school accountability systems. ESSA also authorizes LEARN, which provides grants to states to develop or enhance comprehensive, “evidence-based” literacy instruction for all children in high-need areas. Funding can also come from the Innovative Approaches to Literacy Program, which allows for grants for literacy programs in low-income areas, and Title I, which has more flexibility under ESSA. EdWeek Blogs

Universal Design for Learning

ESSA explicitly calls for states to use UDL principles when developing assessments for all students, and encourages districts to use UDL to help learners with disabilities. ESSA also asks states to include UDL in their comprehensive literacy plans. Under ESSA, some federal funding is available to help with costs associated with UDL implementation and planning. EducationDive

6 Things for Teachers & Leaders to Know

Rick Hess breaks down ESSA for educators who don’t have the time to research the bill or keep up with the latest news. This is a useful take on ESSA for teachers and leaders. EdWeek Blogs

5 Things for States to Know

Excel in Ed has put together this list of five things states need to know about school accountability. They are: 1) States will set their own goals; 2) Questions remain around subgroup accountability; 3) States must choose an additional indicator of school quality or student success; 4) States will select their own school supports and interventions; and 5) New accountability provisions don’t take effect until the 2017-18 school year. ExcelinEd

Transition FAQs

These are for states to better understand the transition to ESSA. US Doe

Timeline

If you’re more of a visual person, you may find this ESSA timeline useful. ExcelinEd

In Defense of Guardrails

In post-ESSA education politics, the conservative position is that states must be given autonomy or near-autonomy in all matters related to education, and the liberal position is that there must be significant federal guardrails put in place to protect subgroups of students (more on this ongoing debate here). In this short piece, Elisa Villanueva Beard, the CEO of Teach for America, argues in favor of the liberal position. The Hill.

 

CALIFORNIA

Testing Emotional Skills

ESSA requires states to include at least one nonacademic measure in judging school performance, and the idea of testing social-emotional skills is gaining traction. Starting this year, schools in nine California districts will test students on skills like self-control and conscientiousness. However, some experts are concerned because it is difficult to design and administer social-emotional tests, and some experts don’t think such tests are a good idea at all. NY Times

 

FLORIDA

New Assessment Bill

A bill in the Florida legislature would take advantage of the ESSA provision that allows states to decide what assessments to use. This Florida bill would allow Florida districts, schools, and even parents to decide between the FSA (Florida Standards Assessment), the ACT Aspire (in grades 3-8), or the PSAT, SAT, or ACT (in high school), beginning in 2016-2017. Florida’s education commissioner, Pam Stewart, has expressed reservations about the bill because the SAT and ACT don’t fully reflect the Common Core, which Florida uses. EdWeek Blogs

About that Bill, Though…

ESSA allows states to choose which tests to administer statewide for grades 3-8, but the way ESSA is written, all 3-8 students in a state must take the same test as the rest of the students in their grade level. The Florida bill would directly undermine ESSA because it aims to give districts, schools, and even parents the power to decide which exam their 3rd-8th grader/s will take. This sets up a potential clash between Florida and the DoE. A similar situation is unfolding in Arizona. EdWeek Blogs

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Written by

Andrew Olson is a Senior Editorial Assistant at Corwin, supporting Corwin’s Leadership, Educational Technology, and General Methods lists.

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