ESSA Implementation Update: It’s “No”-vember in Georgia for District Assessment Opt-out. And More.


November 3, 2016


This is the 16th ESSA implementation update in a series.
To see all posts on ESSA implementation, click here.
To see our interactive 50-state ESSA implementation map, click here.

National. Our friends at the National Down Syndrome Congress are hosting a Google doc with comprehensive and up-to-date information on state stakeholder outreach efforts and ESSA plan development. Check it out here. See also: Understanding ESSA from the Collaborative for Student Success and ASCD.

National. The Council of Chief State Schools Officers has pitched its own plan on USDOE’s much-debated supplement-not-supplant (SNS) regulation. Instead of trying to level-fund poor schools, CCSSO would have states merely report on their allocation formulas, something that is already done now. Education Week headline: “State Chiefs Pitch ESSA Spending Rules With Less Bean Counting.” Matt Barnum, of the 74, via Twitter: I’d argue that bean counting is very important in order to ensure that poor kids get a fair number of beans.”

Alabama. The state is moving cautiously, making some decisions now and holding others for when they see final federal rules. Key elements of the accountability plan decided on are: (1) The minimum number of students in a subgroup remains at 20; (2) student achievement and learning gains will both be used; (3) attendance; (4) a college and career ready indicator attainment for schools with a grade 12. Those on hold? (1) How to hold schools accountable when less than 95% of students participate in state assessments; (2) how and when to measure progress for English Language Learners; (3) how to “meaningfully differentiate” among public schools statewide; (4) how much weight each measure (e.g., student achievement, learning gains) is given; and (5) what “underperforming” means, as in what time frame and on which factors.”

California. The State Board of Education is mulling over how to spend its windfall of $200 million the state can now take off the top of district Title I allocations under ESSA. Edsource: “The state board could choose simply to add more money, without diversion, to districts’ Title I allocations – consistent with Brown’s philosophy of local control. Districts like financially troubled Los Angeles Unified may argue that’s what the state board should do. But the state board could also create its own priorities. It could choose to direct a sizable share to the new state agency overseeing the school improvement process…It could establish competitive grants, train a new generation of principals or fund districts working on new high school assessments.”

Delaware. Governor Jack Markell sees ESSA as having a salutary effect on public discussions around state education policy. “Education conversations can be pretty difficult because adults come in with such different perspectives, but I think ESSA is providing us with a good opportunity to get a lot of people engaged,” Markell said at an event on Tuesday. Markell, who is on a lot of peoples’ short-lists as a candidate for U.S. Secretary of Education under Hillary Clinton, also touted the state’s improvement rates of student achievement: “The trend in our state and across the country is clear – higher standards are translating into meaningful and measurable progress for our students.”

Georgia. The state denied a request from the Newton County School System to use the Iowa tests in lieu of the state’s Milestones system to assess English/Language Arts and math in grades 3-8. The state added, though, that it may be open to the proposal as it transitions from NCLB to ESSA and that “in the interim, Newton County may wish to work with technical advisers to begin to establish/or gather evidence that Iowa assessments meet the requirements of academic assessments as mandated by ESSA…” The state is apparently confused, because ESSA maintains NCLB’s requirements that all students in the state be measured on the same statewide assessments. Nonetheless, expect more of this boundary-testing as time goes on.

Hawaii. The reasons are somewhat unclear, but Hawaii’s state board of education has announced that it will not be renewing the contract of state superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi, who has held the post for the past six years. Just last month, the board gave Matayoshi an “exceeds expectations” rating stating: “During Superintendent Matayoshi’s term, the Department of Education faced numerous challenges and initiated substantial changes, making nationally recognized progress in improving student achievement and instituting reform.” Matayoshi says she would like to stay and that the work she’s done is well-aligned with ESSA’s multiple measures approach to school ratings and accountability. Hawaii State Teachers Association president Corey Rosenlee, particularly critical of Matayoshi’s oversight of the state’s teacher evaluation plan, told KHON that it agrees with the board’s decision and that “this is an opportunity to go into a new direction.”

Illinois. Illinois Chamber of Commerce President Todd Maisch put ESSA implementation among his post-election policy priorities: ESSA implementation “scares the heck of me,” Maisch said. “Each state reportedly will develop their own academic standards, and they could be pretty ‘loosey-goosey’. We will have to hold the states’ feet to the fire with them.” Masich also floated a new high school graduation requirement: “Shouldn’t high school seniors, as a condition of graduation, need to spend 30 hours in a workplace, or learning about a workplace?”

Indiana. With Governor Mike Pence on the road campaigning in the final days of an increasingly narrowing election, Indiana superintendents are asking the state to make a decision, once and for all, on the selection of academic assessments. “What upsets me is the Indiana Department of Education had put a plan together to replace ISTEP, but they can’t even get that plan heard,” said Barr-Reeve Superintendent Travis Madison. He adds: “We’re no longer under No Child Left Behind and we could be doing things this year that would work under ESSA.” White River Valley Superintendent Bob Hacker said: “After seven panel meetings, Indiana is no closer to finding a replacement for ISTEP. As a result, our students are pawns of a Legislature that does not prepare career- and college-ready students.”

Louisiana. State Superintendent John White’s proposal for rating schools, especially its weighting of student progress relative to student proficiency rates, is generating a lot of discussion. Stephanie Desselle, of the Council for a Better Louisiana, said: “Allowing 25 percent of the School Performance Score to stem from student growth could lead to wild fluctuations in school letter grades, and simulations are needed to gauge the impact.” Jessica Baghian, assistant state superintendent for assessments and accountability for the state Department of Education, says the proposed weighting of 25 percent for student progress “is a starting point for discussions set to go on for the rest of the year.”

New York. The Education Trust-NY and other civil rights and advocacy groups have published a nice round-up of the “good, the” “troubling,” and questions for more of the “high concept ideas” put forth by the New York Board of Regents to inform its ESSA planning work. The good list is rather short. What’s troubling? “This proposal allows students to remain in one of the absolute lowest-performing schools in the state for years without the school receiving assistance and support for improvement.” The “questions” list is the longest. Much remains to be decided.

Texas. Texas has an online survey for residents who want to weigh in on components of the state’s ESSA plan. For example, among options for school quality indicators are: (1) Arts opportunities – Student access to performing arts, such as music and drama; (2) Career and technical training – Student access to education programs that offer knowledge and skills relevant to further education and careers; (3) Educator engagement – Staff supported by strong professional development, empowered to work together to improve the school, and committed to school improvement; and, (4) Student engagement – Students who participate in learning with attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion about learning. Deadline is Friday November 18th at 5 p.m. CT.