Leveraging ESSA to Support Teacher Leadership

Teach Plus Massachusetts Teaching Policy Fellows – April 2016

A Teach Plus Teaching Policy paper encourages educators to advocate for several teacher-led professional development (PD) and retention policies that will adhere to ESSA’s Title II guidelines. Teach Plus emphasizes long-term PD that unites communities.

Teach Plus recommends that PD be site- and district-specific, prioritizing the leadership of teachers within the school or district. They further recommend the use of staff surveys to determine PD priorities based on issues like student population and school resources. Those leading PD should be given time to prepare and should be financially compensated for their contributions. Finally, Teach Plus offers a series of questions that can help determine whether the PD meets the federal definition of high-quality development.

In order to retain individual teachers long-term, Teach Plus recommends that states and districts develop a career ladder with concrete rungs, spelling out each step a teacher needs to take to further his or her career. This ladder should allow teachers to develop spontaneous, hybrid roles to address critical needs specific to their schools and communities that can fit into their career track. Lastly, they recommend that states develop a concrete and transparent leadership recruitment process that includes teachers and administrators.

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The Every Student Succeeds Act: What’s in It? What Does It Mean for Equity?

The Education Trust – January 2016

The Education Trust believes that teachers can have a powerful impact on student learning, and that teachers, schools, and districts must act when they see any group of students struggling. The Education Trust has created six fact sheets that provide an overview of ESSA, along with questions for advocates to ask regarding the implementation of the law that revolve around equity and the practicalities of implementation. The sheets cover standards, assessments, accountability, public reporting, PD benefits for teachers and school leaders under ESSA, and funding.

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Teach Plus Online: What Teachers Need to Know to Influence Policy Decisions

Teach Plus – 2016

Teach Plus Online: What Teachers Need to Know to Influence Policy Decisions” is a free, self-paced course that shows teachers how to help shape policy. The course is adapted from the Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellowship program. The five part program instructs teachers on overcoming obstacles in influencing policy, discusses how the policy-making process works, and how to use storytelling and public narrative for advocacy. It also covers the ins and outs of ESSA. The course is a mixture of short video segments, activities, and assessments.

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Using Title II Under ESSA to Support Accomplished Teaching in States

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards – 2016

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards presents recommendations to states on how to use the $2.5 Billion offered to states and districts nationally every year under Title II under ESSA. The National Board encourages states to engage Board-certified teachers as they implement the law. Additionally, ESSA allows states to reserve up to 4% of Title II funds for state activities. Recommendations for the use of these funds include providing a residency year to new teachers; to recruit accomplished teachers as paid clinical faculty for learning teachers and act as mentors; defray the cost of Board certification for teachers; provide content specific PD; provide additional training to teachers who take leadership roles; and develop career lattices so that teachers have a variety of avenues for advancement.

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Get Involved in Your State’s ESSA Planning

Jodi Peterson – June 2016

The National Science Teachers Association emphasizes the opportunities science and STEM teachers have to make their voices heard during the ESSA implementation process in their respective states. NSTA encourages teachers to examine their state websites or talk to state leaders about getting involved. NSTA additionally provides links to ESSA implementation participation resources from 21 states and provides a link to a video series providing ESSA implementation. APS has also provided resources specific to physics teachers here: https://www.aps.org/policy/issues/education/essa.cfm

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Why teachers like me support Secretary King’s proposed Title I rules

Ben Mackenzie – September 2016

Ben Mackenzie, a Minneapolis high school ELA teacher, advocates for supplement-not-supplant rules established by the U.S Department of Education under ESSA. Mackenzie notes that teachers need a voice in ESSA implementation, and that teachers at schools with high-poverty populations know that students at these schools are less likely to have the same access to quality education as those in low-poverty schools. The difference in funding, Mackenzie states, leaves students in low-income schools at a disadvantage of $2 billion annually. If ESSA funds replace existing funds for low-income schools instead of adding to those funds, the opportunity gap between low-poverty and high-poverty schools will remain.

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Great Teachers are Made and Title II is How We Make Them

Misti Kemmer – October 2016

Reminding readers that only about half of US educators stick with teaching through their first five years, Los Angeles teacher Misti Kemmer uses her personal experience and her school’s triumphs to illuminate the need for evidence-based, job-embedded professional development – a definition of professional learning aligned with ESSA. She goes on to suggest that Title II funds be used to improve teacher preparation programs, and also fund approaches that increase retention of effective teachers in high-needs schools.

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We Need an Accountability System that will Clearly Communicate How Schools are Doing – LA School Report

Tunji Adebayo – September 2016

Testifying before the California State Board of Education, Los Angeles teacher Tunji Adebayo who took special care to learn about the perspectives of his students and their parents before advocating for transparency and equity in California’s new school accountability system. Later, Adebayo shared the experience with his students, working to help them understand the importance of advocating for what they believe in. He concludes that working to shape a more equitable school system means that all parties, including educators, families, and students, must come together to engage in decision-making process.

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What’s In a Student Portfolio? Fishman Winners Weigh In On ESSA

Erica Mariola and Evelyn Rebollar – September 2016

ESSA allows for student assessment through multiple data points, and experts have been considering assessment options that include portfolios. In this blog post, Fishman prize winners Evelyn Rebollar and Erica Mariola consider some of the advantages and issues associated with portfolio-based assessments.

Rebollar argues that portfolios give ownership of the learning process to students, who respond positively to the idea of demonstrating what they know. She argues that there should be portfolio pilot programs before schools and districts use them widely, and goes on to explain that when used, schools should monitor the success of pilot participants after they graduate from high school.

While she worries about teacher partiality in rating assessments, she explains that it can be mitigated by assigning teachers to grade portfolios from students at neighboring schools. This has the added advantage of allowing students to present to individuals they do not know.

While agreeing with Rebollar that state tests are confining, Mariola worries that portfolios will not be fairly or consistently graded and that portfolio grades will not be comparable across a state. She also argues that the use of portfolios might undermine the rigor of state standards, leaving students unprepared for life after school.

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