The House just passed the Every Student Succeeds Act with a final vote of 359-64. Now, the legislation is now headed to the Senate.
But, what exactly is the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)?
The Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, is geared toward improving K through 12th grade public education.
According to a recent article in the Atlanta Joural-Constitution, “ESSA returns more control to states, although it does not boot the feds out of education entirely as some members of Congress wanted. Annual math and reading tests are still required in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school, but the scores do not determine the sum total of a school’s worth. Instead, schools will be assessed on other factors including high school graduation rates, English language proficiency, student and school supports such as access to higher level coursework, art, music and counselors.”
How is this truly different than the No Child Left Behind Act from 2001?
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan puts it this way, “No Child Left Behind has been roundly condemned as a test-and-punish approach that treated a single standardized test score as a full representation of a school’s worth. Teachers and parents complained the law reduced learning to multiple choice questions…
Although well-intended, the No Child Left Behind Act — the most recent version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act — has long been broken. We can no longer afford that law’s one-size-fits-all approach, uneven standards, and low expectations for our educational system.””
What does this mean for your classrooms, schools and districts?
In a recent Education Week article, the highlights included:
- States would still have to test students in reading and math (grades 3 through 8 and once in high school) and break out the data for whole schools, plus different “subgroups” of students (English-learners, students in special education, racial minorities, those in poverty).
- States get wide discretion in setting goals, figuring out just what to hold schools and districts accountable for, and deciding how to intervene in low-performing schools. In addition to tests, states must incorporate other factors that get at students’ opportunity to learn, like school-climate and teacher engagement, or access to and success in advanced coursework.
- States and districts will have to use locally-developed, evidence-based interventions, though, in the bottom 5% of schools and in schools where less than 2/3 of students graduate.
- States must also flag for districts schools where subgroup students are chronically struggling.
- And, in a big switch from the NCLB waivers, there would be no role for the feds whatsoever in teacher evaluation.
- The performance of each subgroup of students would have to be measured separately, meaning states could no longer rely solely on so-called supersubgroups. (a statistical technique in the waivers that allowed states to combine different categories of students for accountability purposes.)
How do educators feel about the change?
National PTA President Laura Bay explains, “Our nation’s students, families and educators have waited far too long for comprehensive reauthorization of ESEA/NCLB. The Every Student Succeeds Act is a marked improvement over current law and will provide much needed certainty for families and schools.”
To read the Every Child Succeeds Act (EESA) in its entiretly, click here.
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