Tuesday / April 23

Weekly ESSA Round-Up: Equity, Tech, and Testing

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.


Balancing Act

During an oversight hearing, members of the House Education and Workforce committee pressed U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. on interventions in struggling schools, overtesting, and how he would strike a balance between local control and federal protections for disadvantaged students. King maintained that the DoE must provide and enforce strong guidelines to protect struggling and disadvantaged students, but also emphasized that the DoE will strongly consider input from educators and state education leaders as it develops regulations. EdWeek Blogs

Implementation Network

Two weeks ago I included a note about the ESSA Implementation Network that was formed by NGA and 9 other national organizations with the stated mission of working together to help facilitate the transition to ESSA. EdWeek has more information, including a less impartial take on the Network’s mission: to guard states’ flexibility under the new law and fend off federal intrusion. The group said that State departments will ask the federal government to define “evidence-based” and “qualified teacher.” EdWeek Blogs

Flexible Tech

ESSA funding gives districts and schools much more flexibility to fund technology adoption as they see fit. In particular, schools can make use of two new grants: The Student Support & Academic Enrichment Grant of $1.65 billion and the Education Innovation & Research Grant of $70-90 million. Also: back in 2013, North Carolina passed a state law requiring districts to buy only electronic textbooks and materials by 2017. District Administration

Governor Empowerment

Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who helped author ESSA, told a room full of several dozen governors to hold strong and resist any attempt by the federal government to shape education policy in the coming years. “Just say no if you don’t like it,” he said. And if the feds try to stand their ground, Alexander said, states should sue. EdWeek Blogs

The Importance of Equity

The Education Trust urged the federal government to stay strong on equity, noting that equity is likely to fall by the wayside in some states under ESSA because of the flexibility the bill allows states. EdTrust

About “Evidence-based”

This piece from early December breaks down what evidence-based may actually mean, noting that the bill describes “tiered levels of evidence” –Strong evidence, Moderate evidence, and Promising evidence – but that all of these levels are considered “evidence” by the bill. EdWeek Blogs

Universal Design

ESSA calls for states to keep the tenets of universal design for learning (UDL) in mind as they develop student assessments and create plans for comprehensive literacy instruction. ESSA also allows states to use federal funding for technology that supports UDL. According to UDL supporters, the biggest challenge is getting more educators to understand UDL.  EdWeek


The DoE released an FAQ on the transition to ESSA, and while most of the information was old news, there were a few new or clarified items. For example, states do not have to submit “consolidation plans” for spending their Title I and other ESSA funds by July 1 of this year for the 2016-2017 school year. Also, states won’t have to note that a state has missed AYP on their new school report cards – but they will have to say whether a school is a “priority” or “focus” school. EdWeek Blogs


California Truancy

Now that the California DoE will for the first time collect chronic absenteeism data, some are pushing for California to include absenteeism in the accountability system it is creating under ESSA. CA will begin collecting the data from districts in late spring 2017, based on attendance for the 2016-2017 school year. EdSource and EducationDive


Replacing Common Core

New York is replacing Common Core with its own set of standards, but it will take 18 months and won’t affect state tests until spring 2019, according to a timeline presented by state officials. Chalkbeat

The Opt-out Movement

Under ESSA, states are allowed to decide how to handle school districts that do not meet the federal 95 percent participation standard for state standardized tests. In New York, which had one of the highest test-refusal rates in the nation last year at over 20 percent, the issue is on the minds of many. This article has a lot of quotes from relevant folks. Politico New York


Test Reduction

A bill proposed in the state senate would reduce the number of tests that Georgia students take from 32 to 24. All of the exams removed would be science and social studies exams between third and seventh grades. The bill would also reduce the role of test results in teacher and administrator evaluations from 50 percent to 30 percent. EdWeek


If I missed anything, please let me know in the comments! I may include it next week.

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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