ESSA Implementation Update: ESSA Accountability Rules Walk a Fine Line
June 2, 2016
ESSA hits the national news market again. Lauren Camera and Lindsey Cook, in US News & World Report’s, “Title I: Rich School Districts Get Millions Meant for Poor Kids,” break down the ESSA funding controversy and include a fabulous interactive map, spreadsheet, and video. ERN’s Michael Dannenberg says, “Let me be clear. The kids who need the most should get the most. Right now when it comes to school financing in general – and not just federal education aid – they too often are getting the least. But Title I, in general, is more targeted than a lot of other education funding streams.”
ESSA accountability rules walk a fine line. EdWeek’s Andrew Ujifosa describes the tap dance states and the feds will do around flexibility and equity. Where might it collide? We’ve already seen the clash over resource equity, and the next may be over accountability — specifically transparency (states have to craft school report cards that combine multiple measures into a single summative accountability rating), test participation rules, and timing. Kentucky’s schools chief, Stephen Pruitt, fired off a letter to the USDOE pointing out that although the new accountability system won’t go into effect until the 2017-2018 school year, data from the 2016-2017 school year will be used, in part, in the identification of low-performing schools. These issues, and more, are sure to come up during EdWeek’s June 15th webinar highlighting State and District perspectives on ESSA implementation.
In the States
California. California is home to the largest number of active-duty military in the country. Studies show that children who have a parent deployed are more frequently diagnosed with acute stress, depression, and behavioral problems and have suicide rates five percentage points higher than non-military connected children. To better support the mental health needs of these children – who move 6-9 times before graduating – ESSA has a new requirement to track them with unique ID numbers. This will also allow, for the first time, a light to be shined on their academic needs: “Most of them, through no fault of their own, come to us behind in academic performance and with gaps in their learning,” said Bill Cass, Principal of Silver Strand Elementary School in California’s Coronado Unified School District, where 80 percent of students are military-connected.
Georgia. Georgia may have a smooth transition to ESSA accountability since the state report card they developed in 2012 after receiving a No Child Left Behind waiver already incorporates required ESSA measures (proficiency on state assessments, academic progress for elementary and middle schools and graduation rates for high schools, and progress made by English language learners), as well as an additional measure of quality. “[The state has] gotten a lot of input from local school leaders, board members, the public, policy makers, so I think Georgia’s one of those states that’s really poised well to step right up and move on. I don’t think this is going to be a struggle or a hardship for them” says Jeff Gagne, director of policy and analysis at the Southern Regional Education Board.
Illinois. The Illinois Education Association is hosting a live video conversation June 14th from 3:30 to 4:45 CST to “examine the role of stakeholder engagement and opportunities for supporting equity in Illinois’s implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).” With all the rancor in the state over education, here’s hoping common ground and cooperation can be found in the state that gave us both Lincoln and Obama.
Texas. Local U.S. Congressmen Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) thinks the Feds should send money directly to districts and bypass the Governor. “When the governor makes a unilateral decision not to take money, it hurts several pockets of the state,” Castro said during a meeting hosted with a senior advisor to U.S. Education Secretary John King, with local educators on the new Every Student Succeeds Act. Texas’s Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is willing to risk $10 billion in federal education funds in a challenge to a federal directive supporting transgender students.
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