What educators need to know about essa

What Educators Need to Know about ESSA

Maddie Fennell – Summer 2016
“The Every Student Succeeds Act can help us bridge the gap between policymakers and practitioners,” writes Maddie Fennell, secretary for the National Network of State Teachers of the Year and Teacher in Residence at the U.S. Department of Education. She explains key changes from No Child Left Behind, including regulations related to Adequate Yearly Progress and Highly Qualified Teacher Requirements. The law also no longer requires specific educator evaluations. Additionally, she details new aspects of ESSA, including that state report cards must now include disaggregation for homeless students, students in foster care, and students from military families. Notably, states will develop their own accountability measures and interventions for struggling schools. Finally, Fennell outlines new opportunities for teacher-led professional learning, explaining that the law expands the allowable use of Title II funds to content areas beyond ELA and math. There is also a call for states to support districts in empowering their best teachers to lead professional learning for their peers.

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deeper learning

Advancing Deeper Learning Under ESSA

Jobs for the Future – March 2016

This brief recommends seven ways for supporters of deeper learning to take advantage of the changing education policy landscape, as states and local districts begin exercising increasing control over decision-making. The authors outline priorities to help the nation’s high schools move from a largely inequitable system to one that prepares all students for college and careers, with the full range of academic, personal, and social skills needed for life success. The recommendations include: seize the moment to promote equitable opportunities for deeper learning; say yes to high-quality assessment; focus on building a professional teaching culture; emphasize capacity, not compliance; don’t let imaginary barriers get in the way of good ideas; get serious about career readiness; and strengthen partnerships between high school and higher education. The ideas in the report grew out of “Turning the Corner: Toward a New Policy Agenda for College, Career, & Civic Readiness,” a national meeting JFF held in October 2015 that brought together over 100 influential figures from across the education world to discuss next steps for the deeper learning movement.

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ascd nclb

Comparison of the No Child Left Behind Act to the Every Student Succeeds Act

The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development – 2016

The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) compares NCLB and ESSA in key areas, and shares their position on each. ASCD supports a well-rounded education with public reporting on student performance in a variety of subjects and believes that standardized test scores should be reported publicly and disaggregated. Regarding accountability, ASCD states that assessment scores provide only a snapshot of student, teacher, or school performance. Evaluation systems should be multi-metric and include non-academic indicators. State report cards should show aggregated as well as disaggregated data for transparency, accountability, and equity. ASCD believes that students deserve highly qualified teachers who are incrementally introduced to the profession and should be evaluated using multiple measures.

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Your Guide to Comments on the Draft ESSA Accountability Rules

Alyson Klein and Andrew Ujifusa – August 2016

More than 20,000 comments on ESSA’s draft regulations were submitted between May and August of 2016. Education Week summarizes some of the comments submitted by major education advocacy organizations. CCSSO, NGA, AFT, the Council of the Great City Schools, and Ed Trust all objected to the one-year deadline for ESSA implementation. CCSSO, NGA, and the Council of Great City Schools also oppose a single summative score indicating the success of any given school, as do NASBE and AASA. However, Ed Trust firmly supports the inclusion of a summative rating, and the emphasis on academic indicators being weighted more heavily in the calculations. Additional concerns include objections to the federal government’s authority over states when it comes to opt-out rates, the danger of over-identifying schools as underperforming by relying on over-simplified indicators, the danger of focusing too heavily on kids on the cusp of proficiency, and the need to include more subgroup categories to help traditionally underserved students.

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Leveraging ESSA to Modernize and Elevate the Teaching Profession

TeachStrong – November 2016

This guidance, targeted at states, details the opportunities that ESSA provides modernize and elevate the teaching profession, particularly through Title II funding. The report lists TeachStrong’s night principles, along with aligned strategies to implement them, example programs and activities, and the applicable section of ESSA. This resource, while written for education agencies, will be particularly helpful to educator-advocates hoping to advise agencies or understand how specific portions of ESSA are aligned to their priorities as education leaders.

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Students Can’t Wait – ESSA Resources from The Education Trust

This set of resources from The Education Trust empower education advocates to understand ESSA and its accountability measures. With an eye on equity, EdTrust argues that advocates must remain engaged in the development of school accountability plans and explains accountability indicators and important considerations for advocates. While the resources included are too numerous to list here, there are helpful fact sheets on the benefits and dangers of specific accountability measures, including indicators like chronic absenteeism and school discipline, along with another fact sheet on ensuring student equity in school ratings.

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Advancing Equity Through ESSA: Strategies for State Leaders

The Council of Chief State School Officers and the Aspen Education & Society Program – October 2016

This eight-priority framework from CCSSO and the Aspen Education & Society Program offers states advice in as they make decisions about ESSA implementation. These priorities include:

-closing funding gaps,

-improving low performing schools,

-increasing access to effective teachers and leaders,

-supporting English learners,

-increasing access to advanced coursework,

-addressing disproportionate discipline practices,

-supporting social-emotional learning, and

-improving access to high-quality instructional materials.

Of note to educators, the report, which is lengthy but extremely informative, identifies numerous ESSA provisions aligned to each of these priorities. It may be helpful for teacher leaders to examine a specific priority, like supporting English learners, as a way to learn more about how they may lead and advocate for change in their contexts.

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