The Every Student Succeeds Act, was signed into law by the President Obama in December of 2015. It replaces No Child Left Behind and in sum requires assessments in key areas but gives States more control in the forms these assessments will take, requires states to take corrective action for under performing schools but allows states to come up with their own goals and rating programs to measure school success, gives additional support for charter schools, expands early childhood education, and establishes mandates for college and career readiness. The ESSA says the federal government cannot mandate a particular curriculum or set of standards (e.g. Common Core) but raises the bar very high when it comes to proving the college and career readiness of graduates What does this all mean? Here it is broken down into bullet points:
It keeps the formula that targets funding for poor children, and eliminates portability that allows resources to be diverted to more-affluent districts.
It says that the federal government cannot mandate a particular curriculum or set of standards which does indeed end the Common Core mandate. On the other hand, it requires states to have in place state-wide curriculum standards, assessments, and accountability systems for career and college readiness that prove that students are prepared "for post-secondary education or the workplace". Further, the preparation must show that most students graduate without need for remediation when entering higher education.
Compared to NCLB it keeps the same testing schedule and reporting requirements for statewide annual testing, but it gives states the option to give a single summative test, as they do now, or break up the assessment into smaller components that could be given throughout the school year to provide more frequent information on student achievement and growth. The ESSA also provides local education agencies (LEAs) the ability to use a nationally-recognized high school academic assessment (like the SAT) in lieu of a state-developed assessment, so long as the test can provide comparable data and the state approves. Notably, the ESSA also encourages the development of innovative assessment system to include locally-designed competency-based and performance-based assessments. It does require that proof is given to the Department of Education that the data will be comparable to the statewide tests. These performance-based assessments can be in the form of portfolios, projects or extended performance tests.
It still requires annual standardized tests in grades 3-8 in math and English as did NCLB. It also requires science testing at designated junctures through grade 12. These tests must be factored into grades.
It rejects parents’ ability to opt out of testing and will penalize if there is not 95% participation.
It requires states to audit their testing policies to decrease unnecessary tests, permits states to set a target limit on the aggregate amount of time states spend administering assessments in each grade level, and requires parents to be given full information about testing.
It does nothing protect student data privacy, while allowing the continued disclosure of sensitive personal information to vendors and other third parties without parental knowledge or consent.
It makes computers a core subject and supports subjects like music and arts education.
It still requires states to submit education plans and giving USED enormous authority to approve them. It also adds to the list of federal programs a state must consult in developing its plan and requires standards to be aligned with federally approved workforce and early-childhood standards. If a state plan fails to meet the requirements of a listed program, USED has the authority to disqualify the state plan unless the state agrees to make the mandated changes. Any prohibitions on USED’s interfering with state standards, assessments, and accountability don’t apply here.
It places a lot of focus on early child hood education, in particular, it requires the statewide preschool standards to align with federal standards established under Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
It maintains MOE (maintenance of effort) for students with special needs. It also limits the number of kids who can be held to different standards.
The ESSA Gives states authority to determine interventions for under performing schools
It increases education funding over the four year authorization while streamlining and reducing the number of federal programs. It specifically authorizes dedicated funding for instructional innovation, teacher quality, after school programming, STEM education, arts education, healthy students, early childhood education, literacy, and career and college readiness efforts.
It supports merit pay for teachers rather than tying it to student test scores like NCLB.
It allows for socio-emotional profiling of students.
It expands federal funding to charter schools.
It places an absolute ban on the federal government intervening in the decision-making of states and districts as to how to judge schools, evaluate teachers or implement standards. Further, it bans the feds from requiring, or even incentivizing, states to adopt any particular set of standards.
It requires that a state must identify and intervene in the bottom 5% of its schools, and those schools must be identified at least once every three years. It also requires states and districts to intervene in any high school that fails to graduate more than 67% of its students. States must also notify Local Education Agencies (LEAs) of any schools where subgroup student populations are consistently under performing, and those schools must take action to address the problems. In another big change, any turnaround strategy for the lowest 5% of schools or schools with low graduation rates would be driven by districts, with states being allowed to monitor and intervene if the district strategy fails to succeed after a “state-determined” number of years (no longer than four).
Maryland State Department of Education
Every Child Achieves, Every Student Succeeds Act, Nicole Buzzetto, Maryland Business Education