U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has given the thumbs up to two more state Every Student Succeeds Act plans: Alaska and Iowa.
That brings the total number of states with approved plans to 44, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Still waiting for the OK: California, Florida, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Utah.
Alaska is working local interim tests into its accountability system, as a measure of school quality or student success for elementary schools. The state will also consider chronic absenteeism and literacy by 3rd grade. High schools will be measured on chronic absenteeism, “on track” freshmen, and how many students are eligible for “Alaska Performance Scholarships,” which are based on GPA, completion of a certain curriculum, and achieving a certain score on tests such as the ACT. The state also makes it clear it can’t ‘”coerce” a parent to make a child take standardized tests…
Read the full article here: May require an Education Week subscription.
One thing we’ll keep stressing again and again this week: how far federal policy has moved since the days of the No Child Left Behind Act (ESSA’s predecessor). Read on.
So, what kinds of goals are states setting?
Some states chose fixed goals that aim for all students, and all subgroups of vulnerable students, such as those qualifying for subsidized school lunches or English-language learners, to reach the same target (such as 80 percent proficiency). What’s nice about this kind of goal is that it sets the same endpoint, making it easier to see over time how achievement gaps are expected to close. States in this category include: Arkansas, Hawaii, Kansas, Mississippi, (grades 3-8 only), Ohio, Minnesota, New York, Rhode island, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Read the full article here: May require an Education Week subscription.
Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming are the latest states to receive feedback on their plans for implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act.
The U.S. Department of Education staffers seem to be burning the midnight oil on feedback letters lately. Four other states—Georgia, Maryland, Puerto Rico, and Utah—got responses last week. Every state has submitted a plan to implement ESSA. And 16 states and the District of Columbia have had their plans approved.
So what do the latest letters say? They are extensive and almost all of them ask for a lot more detail on testing, school turnarounds, accountability, goals, teacher distribution, and more.
Here’s a quick look at some highlights. Click on the state name to read the full letter.
Alabama: The department wants to state to make its student achievement goals clearer, and better explain how student growth on state tests would be used to calculate a school’s academic score. And the feds aren’t clear on how Alabama will calculate English-language proficiency and incorporate it into school ratings—an ESSA must. The state also needs to make it clear that it will flag schools that don’t get federal Title I money for extra supports with subgroups of students…
Read the full story here: May require an Education Week subscription.
Back during the Obama administration, many states were working to tie teacher evaluation to student test scores, in part to get a piece of the $4 billion Race to the Top fund, or to get flexibility from the No Child Left Behind Act.
Then Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, and the feds were totally barred from monkeying around with teacher evaluation. So have a ton of states dropped these performance reviews? And what has happened in the ones that didn’t?
So far, six states, Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Oklahoma, have dropped teacher evaluations through student outcomes, according to the National Council of Teacher Quality. And other states have kept performance reviews, but made some modifications. Florida, for instance, has kept the student-growth measures, but allows districts to decide how they are calculated. More in this story from Liana Loewus…
Read the full article here: May require an Education Week subscription.
St. Louis — State education chiefs are scrambling staff duties and outsourcing tasks such as data collection and school improvement efforts as they prepare for new responsibilities under the Every Student Succeeds Act—at the same time they cope with continued funding and staffing pressures.
ESSA, which goes into effect for accountability purposes next fall, is a mixed blessing in the view of state superintendents who have long asked for more flexibility to figure out on their own how best to improve student outcomes.
One big challenge: Budget cuts in recent years have left large swaths of state education departments squeezed on the capacity to carry out the training, data collecting, and innovation necessary to fully exploit that flexibility.
That tension was top of mind this month as the Council of Chief State School Officers gathered here for its annual policy forum.
With all their ESSA accountability plans now submitted to the U.S. Department of Education for approval, state education agencies in the coming months move into the implementation phase, which has the potential to be more arduous and politically contentious than the planning phase that took place over the previous two years…
According to a recent report by Education Week, states have largely ignored a critical mandate of the Every Student Succeeds Act that calls for schools to measure the social and emotional competencies of their students.
“Not a single state’s plan to comply with the federal education law—and its broader vision for judging school performance—calls for inclusion of such measures in its school accountability system,” according to Education Week.
However, advocates for measuring social-emotional learning have said that the current tools need more refinement, before the U.S. Department of Education weighs in.
“Existing measures of social and emotional development, which largely rely on students’ responses to surveys about their own character traits, are not sophisticated and consistent enough to be used for such purposes, they have long argued,” the Education Week article said.
Even as school districts in Anchorage, Alaska; Austin, Texas; Chicago, Ill.; Nashville, Tenn.; Oakland, Calif.; and Sacramento, Calif., are actively engaged in incorporating social and emotional learning into their curriculums, civil rights leaders continue to encourage Black parents to get involved with the implementation of ESSA.
“We have noticed that, under the Trump administration, there has been a shift in priorities concerning the implementation of some practices of ESSA, since its inception in 2015,” said Elizabeth Olsson, a senior policy associate for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “However, state and district officials still have to comply with the law.”
Olsson continued: “The U.S. Department of Education needs to make sure that it continues to scrutinize state programs to ensure that states are recruiting effective educational strategies, reducing practices that push students of color out of school systems, and identifying support programs, including professional teacher development and funding for alternative classes, like restorative justice.”
Olsson said that restorative justice programs really help get to the root of student behavior.
Liz King, the senior policy analyst and director of Education Policy for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said that there are still a lot of open questions about how Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is going to implement ESSA.
Earlier this year, after a hearing with a House Appropriations subcommittee, DeVos was roundly criticized by the civil rights community, when she seemed to endorse a state’s right to discriminate against children.
During the hearing, when Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) asked DeVos, if her Education Department would require states, like Indiana, to end the practice of funding schools that openly discriminate against LGBTQ students and families, “DeVos didn’t say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’” Slate.com reported. “She just smiled and stuck to the generations-old cover for violent oppression in America. ‘The states set up the rules,’ she said. ‘I believe states continue to have flexibility in putting together programs.’”
King called those comments “deeply concerning.”
King continued: “What we need to hear from the president and the secretary of education is a commitment to the law, the Constitution, and the rights of all children in the United States, focusing particularly on historically marginalized students.”
King said that the biggest difference between the way that ESSA was handled during President Obama’s administration versus the way the law is being handled now is the commitment to protect the civil rights, dignity, safety and respect for all children in this country. King added that children feel less safe and feel like their rights are being taken away, under the Trump Administration.
In a letter to Senator Patty Murray (D-Was.), DeVos claimed that the way that the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) handled “individual complaints as evidence of systematic institutional violations,” under the Obama Administration, “harmed students.” DeVos also promised to return OCR to a “neutral, impartial investigative agency.”
The Education Department has approved ESSA state plans from Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont.
As minorities continue to enroll in schools across the country at higher rates than their White peers, King said that parents and community members need to act now to make sure that the myriad needs of students of color are fully addressed in ESSA state plans, that includes access to advanced English and math courses and addressing the disparities that exist between how Black students are disciplined compared to White students.
“We have to address the issue of ESSA now, because decisions that are being made will have consequences for years to come,” King said. “One thing that is important to remember is that the implementation of ESSA does not happen in a vacuum.”
King continued: “ESSA is the opportunity for parents to work together with various coalitions, the press and grassroots organizations to shape the way the educational system will look for their children and for their futures in their own states.”
Anchorage, AK – The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development has submitted their final draft of the state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act.
ESSA is meant to replace the No Child Left Behind Act. Key differences between the two include allowing the states to set their own long-term goals and success rates, versus the previous expected 100 percent graduation and proficiency rate.
The draft has been submitted to the Governor’s office for a 30 day review period, prior to the September 18th federal deadline. Public comment will be accepted until September 15th.
By: Michelle Croft and Richard Lee ACT Research and Policy
Despite (or because of) the federal requirement that all students in certain grades participate in statewide achievement testing, stories of parents opting their student out of the testing gained national attention in the media in the spring of 2015. Ultimately, twelve states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin—received a notice from the U.S. Department of Education that they needed to create a plan to reduce opt-outs due to low participation rates.
When statewide testing came in spring 2016, there were more stories of opt-outs, and information about districts failing to meet participation requirements will follow in the coming months.3 Early reports from New York indicate that 21% of students in grades 3–8 opted out in 2016, which was slightly more than the prior year. (See attached PDF below for reference information.)
Participation Rate Requirements
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (both the No Child Left Behind and the Every Student Succeeds authorizations) requires that all students annually participate in statewide achievement testing in mathematics and English in grades 3–8 and high school as well as science in certain grade spans. Ninety-five percent of students at the state, district, and school level must participate; otherwise there is a range of consequences.
Under the No Child Left Behind authorization, the school would automatically fail to meet Adequate Yearly Progress if the school—or subgroups of students within the school—did not meet the participation rate requirement. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides states with greater flexibility to determine how to incorporate the participation rate into the state’s accountability system. However, in proposed regulations, the state will need to take certain actions such as lowering the school’s rating in the state’s accountability system or identifying the school for targeted support or improvement, if all students or one or more student subgroups do not meet the 95% participation rate.
Michelle Croft is a principal research associate in Public Affairs at ACT. Richard Lee is a senior analyst in Public Affairs at ACT.
This report highlights significant investments made by both Republican and Democratic policymakers in state-funded pre-k programs for the fourth year in a row. In the 2015-16 budget year, 32 states and the District of Columbia raised funding levels of pre-k programs. This increased support for preschool funding came from both sides of the aisle–22 states with Republican governors and 10 states with Democratic governors, plus the District of Columbia.
In contrast, only five states with Republican governors and three states with Democratic governors decreased their pre-k funding.
Overall, state funding of pre-k programs across the 50 states and the District of Columbia increased by nearly $755 million, or 12 percent over 2014-15. While this progress is promising, there is still work to be done to set children on the path to academic success early in life. Still, less than half of preschool-aged students have access to pre-k programs.
Increasing the number of students in high-quality preschool programs is broadly viewed as a way to set young learners on a path to a secure economic future and stable workforce. This report includes several state examples and an overview of the pre-k programs they have in place. Data tables on total state pre-K funding and state pre-kindergarten funding by program are appended. [Megan Carolan contributed to this publication.]