ESSA includes improved definition of professional development

Tracy Crow – December 2015
Learning Forward’s executive director, Stephanie Hirsh, praises ESSA’s new definition of professional development: “sustained, (not stand-alone, 1-day, and short-term workshops), intensive, collaborative, job-embedded, data-driven, [and] classroom focused.” She commends ESSA for emphasizing long-term professional development and for trusting local communities should be trusted to determine what professional development should look like and how it should be implemented.

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ESSA Title II and Support for Educators Frequently Asked Questions

ASCD – March 2016
Title II includes new provisions to support teacher training and to help educators grow professionally. This FAQ answers key questions about Title II and the changes that will be made through ESSA. While ESSA eliminates the Highly Qualified Teacher credentialing from NCLB, it requires states to report on the number of inexperienced teachers and those teaching on an emergency credential. The law also provides for the integration of PD into teacher’s daily schedules and provides funds for non-teaching staff to receive PD,which includes leadership academies, clinical training, and residency programs. It also establishes a STEM Matters teacher corps, tasked with recruiting and training STEM teachers. Regarding the distribution of funding, ESSA will slowly shift 80% of funds to high-poverty areas and 20% of funds to high-population areas, where funds were previously allocated solely on population size. While Title I funds cannot be shifted to other areas, Title II funds can be moved to Title I, and Title II and IV funds can be moved between each other. From NCLB, ESSA maintains Teacher Quality Partnership Grants, the Teacher Incentive Fund (now Teacher and School Leader Incentive Grants), SEED grants, and the School Leadership Program (now called the School Leader and Recruitment Support Program).

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ESSA Changes to Teacher-Quality Funding: Which States Snag More Cash?

Stephen Sawchuk – December 2015
The distribution of Title II funds through ESSA will change dramatically for some states over the next ten years. A provision will gradually eliminate a base amount of funding to each state and will instead, use a formula placing more weight on the percentage of the state’s population living in poverty over the state’s overall population. Because of this change, t is predicted that the majority of funding will move from states in the rust-belt to states in the South. According to the Congressional Research Service, IL, LA, MA, MI, NY, PA, and PR will have a decrease in funds of $10 million or more while CA, FL, GA, NC, TN, and TX will have an increase in funds of at least that much.

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ESSA: An Opportunity for American Education

Dr. Rick DuFour – 2016
Dr. Rick DuFour describes policy improvements in ESSA and lists the opportunities ESSA provides to create a Professional Learning Community Mindset: Rethinking the work of teachers as leaders and collaborators, establishing a purpose for that collaboration, providing educators with built-in feedback, creating an environment for teachers that sets them up for success, and sustaining any improvements that come from ESSA.

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Using Title II Under ESSA to Support Accomplished Teaching in Districts

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards – 2016
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards presents recommendations to school districts 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 Board-certified teachers to consult with state implementations of the law. They additionally recommend paying accomplished teachers to work as mentors and coaches to novice teachers; to defray fees required for Board certification; give additional compensation to Board-certified teachers; provide PD embedded into teachers’ work; to create paid hybrid leadership positions for accomplished teachers; to continue to give PD to teachers in leadership roles as leaders; and to develop career lattices that allow teachers to develop in a variety of ways.

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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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Leverage ESSA to Improve Professional Learning in Your District

Stephanie Hirsh – September 2016
Stephanie Hirsh, executive director of Learning Forward, points out that new definition of professional learning in ESSA offers guidance toward improving student learning and improving the teacher quality and effectiveness. She raises five questions on how ESSA can improve professional development and learning. Hirsh argues that education leaders who “prioritize building systems for professional learning will be best positioned to leverage ESSA to achieve excellence and equity in every school.” ESSA will not fully achieve its goals unless states and districts invest in teachers, Hirsh concludes.

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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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Leaveraging ESSA to Support Teacher Leadership

Teach Plus Massachusetts Teaching Policy Fellows – May 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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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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Non-Regulatory Guidance: English Learners and Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Department of Education – September 2016

This memo from the Dept. of Education provides guidance to states and local education agencies about the education of English learners (ELs). The memo emphasizes the civil rights aspect of EL instruction, and urges the use of funds for ELs to only supplement existing programs (not replace them). It also encourages the use dis-aggregated data for ELs with disabilities, former ELs, and long-term ELs (those who have been learning English for five years or more).

The DoE also asks that local education agencies, like districts, provide outreach to adults who influence the education of EL students outside of school, providing them information opportunities for real involvement in student learning. This outreach might include family literacy and ESL services designed to help parents assist in their students’ education.

The DoE states that English-language proficiency standards are distinct from ELA standards. While the former measures how well students speak, read, write, and understand English, the latter measures their command of the state’s ELA standards. EL student assessments must measure the students’ development using the state’s educational standards.

Title III provides funds for teachers to receive high-quality professional development with regard to language for teachers of ELs and all administrators in schools where ELs are enrolled. Title III also includes PD for preschool teachers, and the memo emphasizes developmentally appropriate English language instruction.

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ESSA: Education Department Releases Guidance on Teachers

Alyson Klein – September 2016

Education Week provides an overview of the DoE’s guidance on Title II of ESSA, which specifically recommends support for teachers through every stage of their career. To increase equity in teacher quality, the department provides funds to give monetary perks to teachers who teach at high-needs schools, teach high-needs subjects or teach specific populations; create co-teaching environments, pairing new and experienced teachers in classrooms; and improving working conditions in high-needs schools. To assist in educator development, the DoE suggests alternative teacher preparation programs like residency programs, state academies, mentorship, and principal training. Funds are also provided to construct teacher evaluation systems with multiple measures (and that can take or leave assessments as part of evaluations). States will receive additional support in creating state-wide teacher and administrator prep, though Title II funding will see a drop in the 2017-18 school year of nearly $400 million.

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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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Non-Regulatory Guidance for Title II, Part A: Building Systems of Support for Excellent Teaching and Learning

The U.S. Department of Education -October 2016

ESSA substantial increases flexibility around how states and districts can spend Title II-A funding to prepare, train, and recruit high-quality educations. New guidance from the U.S. Department of Education recommends that education agencies seek to create multiple pathways to earning teacher certification, while also increasing opportunities for teachers to lead from the classroom. It also emphasizes the need to rethink induction and mentorship programs, develop far more meaningful evaluation and support systems, and support transformative school leadership. Finally, the Department also recommends using Title II-A funds to recruit more diverse teachers for under-served schools (where incoming teachers remain predominantly white), increase access to effective teachers, and to utilize teachers as decision-makers in schools.

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ESSA’s Teacher-Quality Grant: Everything You Need to Know

Stephen Sawchuk – April 2016

This article, written in a Q&A format answers several questions people may have about how ESSA changed Title II funding. It explains that a new funding formula means that schools with higher percentages of poverty will see an increase in funding. It points out some new features of the law, explaining that there are references to teacher residency programs and hybrid roles, as well as professional development for STEM and gifted students. Finally, the article includes an information chart highlighting how funding flows through the states to districts, and how that differs from NCLB.

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ESSA TITLE II-A: Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High-Quality Teachers, Principals, and Other School Leaders

Chiefs for Change – September 2016

In this report, Chiefs for Change urges states to use Title II-A funds to help establish data-driven, continuous statewide systems of hands-on professional development and retention that help educators throughout their careers. The report delineates new opportunities under ESSA, including establishing educator preparation academies, incentivizing teacher recruitment and retention, providing students equitable access to effective teachers, designing impactful professional learning, and strengthening school leadership.

Teachers are willing to expand their leadership roles from the classroom, the paper claims; professional development can be tailored to this desire while strengthening leadership within schools. An appendix breaks down projected Title II Part A funds allocated to each state over the next 5 years.

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Ed. Dept Releases Guidance on Early Learning Support in ESSA

Education Department – October 2016

This report from Education Week explains the Dept. of Education’s guidance on funding young learner programs under ESSA. The piece identifies various options for federal funds to be used for young learners including: (1) training early learning teachers, (2) updating and aligning certification and licensing standards for early-childhood educators, (3) providing support and ongoing training to early-learning teachers, and (4) ensuring regular observations of early-learning classrooms to improve teachers’ effectiveness in creating high-quality instructional, social, and emotional climates. The guidance also focuses on new grant programs, which provide funds to improve preschools but also seek to “limit the federal governments’ role in creating the rules that states must follow to get grant dollars.” Education Dive breaks down the guidelines here.

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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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A Critical Opportunity for Teachers to Inform Education Policy: Guiding Principles for Educators on the Every Student Succeeds Act

Rodel Foundation of Delaware – November 2016

Teachers in Delaware drafted this brief report based on their recommendations in the Rodel Foundation’s Blueprint for Personalized Learning. Here, they present five critical opportunities for teachers to engage with their local and state education agencies as they implement ESSA. As teachers advocate with policymakers on behalf of their students, the teacher-authors of this report recommend that teachers:

1. Advocate for the use of Title II funding to support teachers as they implement student-centered learning approaches in their classrooms.

2. Urge states to include metrics to gauge personalized learning, school climate and safety, and engagement as part of their accountability plans.

3. Advertise the flexibility offered under the new legislation as an opportunity to support struggling schools implement personalized learning approaches.

4. Encourage schools and districts to use Title I and Title IV dollars to prioritize personalized learning and student-centered classroom approaches.

5. Advocate for an increase in educator voice and expertise in decision-making processes at the local and state level.

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