We’re keeping close tabs on national news around the Every Student Succeeds Act 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 updates will help you stay current on ESSA and better understand the impact of this new legislation on your role in education. Previous ESSA posts can be found here.
Reducing Test Scores in Teacher Evaluation
A growing number of states, including New York, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Colorado, Alaska, Connecticut, and Utah, are already acting to reduce or eliminate the role of test scores in teacher evaluation. Although Alabama is considering legislation that would make the state an exception, there is a strong trend developing. Brookings
Many states aren’t waiting for the US Department of Education to draft its guidelines; they’re already getting to work designing their accountability systems. Some of the systems in progress appear to conflict with parts of ESSA, setting up potential clashes between the DoE and states. Education Week
Accountability -> Equity
The Education Trust is lobbying states to emphasize equity in their new accountability plans. EdTrust CEO Kati Haycock’s guidelines for a state accountability system emphasize equity, but also family engagement and the use of evidence and data. Meanwhile, EdTrust’s Daria Hall spoke with US chambers of commerce about how states should, and can, drive equity with their new accountability systems, and what’s at stake. Edtrust has published Hall’s powerpoint slides. Huffington Post
Non-Academic Accountability Indicator?
Many have interpreted ESSA as requiring states to include at least one non-academic indicator in their new accountability systems, but blogger Andrew Ujifusa isn’t so sure. ESSA requires that states include four standard academic indicators and a fifth indicator. States’ options for this fifth indicator include (but aren’t limited to) student engagement, educator engagement, school climate, postsecondary readiness, and access to and completion of advanced coursework. Ujifusa argues that the post secondary readiness and advanced coursework options are basically academic indicators. Edweek Blogs
Some State Ed Departments Underfunded
As a result of budget cuts, some state education departments may not be able to take full advantage of the opportunities to improve education that ESSA provides. Cuts to staff and programs could hinder states when it comes to outreach, data collection, development of accountability systems, and intervening in schools. Education Week
The first three days of ESSA negotiated rulemaking are coming to a close. So far, they’ve produced “a lot of high-level ideas about funding inequities and testing”, but little progress. Today they will discuss the inclusion of English-language learners in assessments and in English proficiency tests. Politico
John King Jr. Confirmed
The Senate voted 49-40 last week to confirm King as the US Secretary of Education after President Obama nominated him in February. King had been serving as acting secretary since Arne Duncan stepped down at the end of 2015. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the education committee, urged fellow Republicans to confirm King, arguing “We need a United States Education Secretary confirmed by and accountable to the United States Senate” so ESSA can be implemented faithfully. Among other things, King has said that his biggest push will be around equity. Washington Post
Advocates for parent and community engagement see ESSA as an opportunity. However, while ESSA authorizes engagement programs, it doesn’t guarantee federal funding will be spent on such programs – states will decide how much funding to allocate to parent and family engagement. Education Week
KnowledgeWorks has released a guide to help states and districts understand and take advantage of the opportunities ESSA offers to advance personalized education. KnowledgeWorks also published this article, titled “Top 10 Ways ESSA Opens the Door for Personalized Learning”, and finally, they’ve created this side-by-side resource, which compares NCLB and ESSA through the lens of personalized learning. KnowledgeWorks
The Council of Chief State School Officers has released a 13 page document titled “Major Provisions of ESSA Related to the Education of English Learners.”
California state school board members have indicated they won’t create an overall ranking of schools. Instead, California plans to provide a list of each school’s performance in certain areas. This appears to set up a conflict with ESSA, which requires states to set up an accountability system that will identify their bottom 5% of schools in overall performance. Education Week
A Georgia bill that would reduce the number of tests taken by public school students and reduce the impact of student assessment performance on teacher evaluations has passed in the state House of Representatives. It moves on to the state Senate, where it will likely pass. ABC News
Charles Barone of Education Reform Now has a good roundup of news. His latest update, from March 15th, includes news from Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio. His first update was published March 1st.