Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Reauthorization of ESEA

On December 10, 2015 President Barack O'Bama signed into law the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.  This new law is entitled, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and is meant to limit the federal government's role in public education.  Below is a summary of the changes from ESEA/NCLB to ESSA.

States were required to have standards in math, reading and science at all grade levels.
States are now required to have rigorous standards in math, reading and science with three levels of achievement.  These must be aligned to credit-bearing coursework at a high education institution.
Requires state testing in reading and math annually in grades 3-8 and once in high school.
Same as NCLB with the understanding that there is now limited flexibility that needs approval from the State.
100% of students were to be proficient by the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
Eliminates 100% proficiency requirement.
Federally developed accountability program.
Allows states to develop their accountability program, which must have a clear focus on achievement gap of subgroups.
Corrective action implemented for schools that consistently failed with required set aside for school improvement expenses from Title I funds.
States must identify consistently low-performing schools in the bottom 5% of Title I schools and provide support systems to assist in turn around efforts.
100% of teachers must be highly qualified, professional development must be research-based, and no requirement of teacher evaluation.
States are provided with flexibility in terms of alternative pathways to teaching, professional development is district driven, if districts receive Title II funds, teacher evaluation must have a component of student achievement based on multiple measures.

Although this is not a comprehensive list of the items changed in legislation, it does provide an effective overall summary of the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Unfortunately, this legislation did not go far enough.  Students are still required to take the assessments they are currently completing but under a different name.  

As the superintendent of the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton School District, I will continue to advocate for the elimination of federally mandated assessments.  Our school district can utilize local assessments to convey to our taxpayers the progress our students are making.  The money spent to develop and administer statewide assessments could be better spent on the research and development of 21st century practices to engage students in personalized learning activities.

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