by NNPA ESSA | Nov 7, 2017 | Alaska, Arizona, Betsy DeVos, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, ESSA, Every Student Succeeds Act, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Featured, Featured, Illinois, K12 Education, Louisiana, Massachusetts, National, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, NNPA, NNPA Newswire, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, US Department of Education, Vermont, Washington
By Lauren Poteat, NNPA/ESSA Contributor
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.
Education Week reported that, “DeVos rescinded the Obama administration’s transgender guidance to schools designed to give students more protection.”
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.”
by Alyson Klein | Oct 19, 2017 | Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Education Week, Illinois, K12 Education, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have now submitted their plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act, and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her team are ready to examine the dozens of plans submitted by the second deadline last month.
Thirty-four states and Puerto Rico turned in their ESSA plans in September and October. (The official deadline for submitting plans was September 18, but hurricane-ravaged Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, and Texas got extensions). And all of those plans have now been deemed “complete” by the feds. That means the plans aren’t missing key details, at least according to the department’s initial review…
Read the Full article here. May require an Education Week subscription.
by Andrew Ujifusa | Oct 4, 2017 | Alabama, Connecticut, Education Week, Iowa, K12 Education, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Vermont, Wyoming
Parents who opted their children out of state exams in recent years became the focal point of major education debates in the country about the proper roles of testing, the federal government, and achievement gaps. Now, under the Every Student Succeeds Act, states have a chance to rethink how they handle testing opt-outs.
So how are states responding in their ESSA plans they submitted to the federal government? In short, it’s all over the place, an Education Week review of the ESSA plans shows.
Keep this in mind: ESSA requires that students who opt out of those mandatory state tests must be marked as not proficient on those tests. Those not-proficient scores will in turn, obviously, impact accountability indicators. So while some states highlight this as their approach to handling testing opt-outs, it’s really no more than what the law requires…
Read the full article here. May require an Education Week subscription.
by Andrew Ujifusa | Sep 26, 2017 | Arkansas, California, Education Week, ESSA, Every Student Succeeds Act, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Idaho, Indiana, K12 Education, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia
It’s one of the most controversial questions about the Every Student Succeeds Act and accountability in general: How should schools be graded?
Since nearly all states have at least turned in their ESSA plans, and many ESSA plans have been approved, we now have a good idea of how states are answering those questions. Keep one thing in mind: ESSA requires certain low-performing schools to be identified as needing either targeted or comprehensive support. States have no wiggle room on that. But beyond that, states can assign things like A-F grades, stars, or points. Based on the states that have turned in their plans—and remember, not every state has—We did some good old-fashioned counting and came to the following conclusions, in chart form:
Here are a few notes about that chart.
1) Many states use some kind of points system only as a starting point, since they then use those systems to arrive at final grades or scores that are presented differently to the public…
Read the full article here. May require an Education Week subscription.
by Alyson Klein | Sep 12, 2017 | Arizona, Betsy DeVos, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, ESSA, Every Student Succeeds Act, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Illinois, K12 Education, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, US Department of Education, Vermont
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her team have been approving state plans for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act at a fast and furious pace: They’ve announced approvals for 13 states and the District of Columbia over the past few weeks.
For those keeping score: Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, North Dakota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont have gotten the green light so far. Massachusetts is still waiting on its approval. Colorado got feedback from the Education Department, and then asked for more time to get its revised plan in.
And Michigan is the biggest cliffhanger. The department originally told the state its plan had huge holes and might not be ready for review. Michigan submitted a revised plan, but it’s unclear if it will meet the feds’ standards.
The big ESSA onslaught is yet to come. Thirty-three states are scheduled to turn in their plans on Sept. 18, less than a week from now. (Hurricane-ravaged Texas gets extra time.)
So what did we learn from the first round of ESSA approvals? Here are some big takeaways.
1) The department’s feedback on plans may not be as influential as you’d expect.
The feds flagged certain issues with state plans. But by and large, states didn’t make big revisions in those areas—and got approved any way.
- For instance, Connecticut and Vermont got their way on measuring student achievement. Both states will be able to use so-called “scale scores.” Those help capture student progress as opposed to straight up proficiency rates, which is what many people— including, at least initally, the department—said ESSA requires. Connecticut in particular did not stand down on this issue, telling the department that, “Webster’s dictionary defines proficiency not only as a state of being proficient, but also as an advancement in knowledge or skill.”
- Tennessee will still get to use so-called “supersubgroups,” which combine different historically overlooked groups of students, such as minorities, English-language learners, and students in special education, for accountability purposes. That’s despite the fact that the department said this was a no-no in its initial feedback to the state.
In its revised plan, Tennessee promised to use both combined and broken-out subgroups in identifying schools for “targeted improvement” under the law. And the state provided some data to explain its reasoning behind having a combined black, Hispanic, and Native American subgroup. Tennesee argued that more schools would actually be identified as needing help using the supersubgroup approach than would be otherwise. That appeared to convince DeVos and her team, which gave Tennessee’s plan the thumbs-up in late August.
- ESSA for the first time calls for states to factor into their accountability systems whether English-language learners are making progress in mastering the language. It’s supposed to be a separate component in the accountability system. But Connecticut incorporates English-language proficiency into the academic growth component of its plan. The department told the Nutmeg State to change that. Connecticut instead provided some more information to explain its thinking, and that seemed to work for the feds.
2) States worked the hardest to fix their plans in the areas where the department pushed the most.
Louisiana, Delaware, and other states changed the way science factored into their accountability systems, at the behest of the feds. That was an issue the department clearly thought was important—it got flagged in numerous plans. (More on how you can use science in your ESSA plan and how you can’t in this story.)
3) Some state plans may not be as ambitious as some of ESSA’s architects hoped.
- Arizona got approved to give much lower weight to the reading and math scores of students who have only been at a particular school for a short amount of time. Experts worry that it will diminish the importance of kids from transient populations—including poor and minority students.
- North Dakota was told it needed to make sure that academic factors—things like test scores and graduation rates—carried “much greater weight” than other factors, such as student engagement and college-and-career readiness. So North Dakota upped the percentage from 48 percent for academic factors to 51 percent, according to an analysis by Chad Aldeman, a principal at Bellwether Education Partners, who reviewed select plans. That may not be what Congress had in mind when it used the words “much greater” weight, he said.
The department also asked North Dakota to be more specific about how it would decide which schools fall below the 67 percent graduation rate, triggering whole-school interventions. The state decided to go with schools where the six-year graduation rate falls below that threshold. That wouldn’t have flown under the Obama administration’s regulations for the law, which Congress nixed.
4) Some things in plans are still TBD, even though plans themselves are already approved.
Illinois is planning to use a mix of school quality indicators, including school climate and chronic abseneteeism. But the state is also hoping to add another unspecified measure aimed at elementary and middle schools, and a fine arts measure. The Land of Lincoln still has to figure out the details on those indicators.
And states haven’t yet had to provide lists of which schools will be flagged as needing extra help—or what kinds of strategies they’ll use to fix them. The lists of schools pinpointed for improvement won’t come out until after the 2017-18 school year.
“For the most part, [ESSA] hasn’t been a wild, crazy laboratory of reform, on how to identify and improve schools, that’s all sort of TBD,” Aldeman said.
Want more on ESSA? We have an explainer on the law and takeaways from state plans here.
by ED News | Sep 4, 2017 | Betsy DeVos, ESSA, Every Student Succeeds Act, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), K12 Education, Vermont
AUGUST 31, 2017
Contact: Press Office, (202) 401-1576, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today announced the approval of Maine and Vermont’s consolidated state plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
“Both Maine and Vermont’s plans were found to comply with the law, so I am happy to approve them,” said Secretary DeVos. “I want to thank the chief state school officers, governors and all other stakeholders who helped craft these plans that will help their students succeed.”
Allowing states more flexibility in how they deliver education to students is at the core of ESSA. Each state crafted a plan that it feels will best offer educational opportunities to meet the needs of the state and its students. The following are some of the unique elements from each state’s approved plan as highlighted by each state:
- Creates a three-tiered system of support for schools based on performance, with the highest level of support offering coaching and mentoring to teach effective strategies for school turnaround, in addition to increased funding for staff professional development.
- Plans to reduce the number of non-proficient students in half by 2030.
“Maine’s ESSA plan is moving away from compliance and regulation toward a model that supports and assists schools and educators, especially in areas where students are at a disadvantage,” said Robert G. Hasson, Maine Commissioner of Education.
- Creates an innovative measure of postsecondary outcomes by measuring the percentage of former high school students enrolled in college or trade school, employed in the workforce and/or enlisted in the military approximately 16 months after their high school experience ends.
- Includes physical education in its accountability system to encourage schools to attend to the whole child and to help promote a lifestyle of healthy living.
“The Vermont State Plan reflects Vermont’s simultaneous goals of supporting our most vulnerable students while focusing on solutions that are practical and effective to meet our educational needs,” said Rebecca Holcombe, Vermont Secretary of Education. “We have worked hard to create a plan that values student success for all, both in the classroom and in preparing our students to be engaged and contributing citizens once they leave our schools.”