Byron's Babbles

ESSA: What Stays The Same?

FullSizeRenderI will continue my series of blog posts concerning the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) here with a post about what stays the same under ESSA. I previously blogged about our fascination with ESSA in Why Is ESSA So Fascinating? Because of the many years of state’s frustrations over what were considered by many to be a heavy and prescriptive federal role in education policy, I believe we are all looking for innovative and effective ways that could have lasting impact on schools’ priorities and ultimately a positive impact on our children’s lives. All of the talk of new flexibiity promised under the ESSA, I believe we are all excited to get started on getting everyone in our states together to collaborate and innovate. The United States Department of Education, however, is still in the initial phases of rule-making and figuring out what the USDE’s role will be to  regulate under ESSA, a process which is looking like will take several months. The law doesn’t go into full effect until the 2017-18 school year, but certainly it is time to get started.

Therefore, I would like to take the opportunity a few of the things, as I see ESSA, that stay the same. These things are worth studying because we now have the opportunity to tweak and continue to innovate. Indiana is in a great position under ESSA because many of the things called for under the new act we are already doing. We now can take the opportunity for continuous improvement. We have the opportunity to further hone our vision for education in Indiana and engage our communities in the conversation. Before we get into what remains the same under ESSA let’s take a look at what the wishes of the law are (adapted from an International Association for k-12 Online Learning [iNACOL] webinar):

  • High expectations and tranparency
  • Required action for underperformance
  • State autonomy
  • Local control
  • Program consolidation
  • Room for innovation

Here is what remains the same. We, the states, are still responsible to:

  • adopt challenging state academic standards. Remember, these do not need to be common core and the Secretary of Education has no authority to tell the states what those standards will be.
  • test students annually in math and reading in grades 3-8 and once in high school; and science in grade span. There many who keep talking about how the requirement to test is gone and this is simply not true. By forming our ESSA/ISTEP+ Task Force, however, the Indiana Legislature provided great leadership in having us take this opportunity to study and improve our state testing.
  • publicly report scores based on race, income, ethnicity, disability, and English learners.
  • identify schools for improvement including the bottom performing 5%.
  • distribute Title I, Title II, and Title III formula grants.

In future posts I will be outlining the new opportunities we under ESSA. Every one of those opportunities is fascinating on its own, but we will all need to find ways to collaborate so that all components of ESSA can be knitted together for doing what’s best for the students we serve.

 

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