Inside the Beltway
What’s going on in Washington?
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) made several important announcements this week concerning implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). On February 2, Acting Secretary of Education John King sent a follow-up letter to chief state school officers concerning the president’s Testing Action Plan, released in October. In the letter, King updated the plan to align with the requirements of ESSA and clarify that, through ESSA, states will receive funds that can be used to help develop and improve their assessment systems. ED also announced last week that they would be forming a committee to tackle negotiated rulemaking on testing and accountability.
Why should principals care?
NASSP has met regularly with ED officials concerning principals’ priorities in the regulatory process and will be recommending members for the negotiated rulemaking committee to help ensure principals’ voices are at the table when these important decisions are made. As ED’s regulatory processes advance, principals can expect to see states starting to make policy decisions in accordance with the new law, and as a result, they will have a better idea of how the new law will affect their schools.
In the Press
As the baby boomer generation retires, schools will have an increasing demand for new teachers, making the quality of teacher preparation programs even more important. Bellwether Education examined policies from 11 states that link teacher preparation programs with their alumni’s teaching evaluations. These kinds of policies can help determine which programs produce the most successful teachers and inform regulations of programs and direct state funds.
ESEA Reauthorization: Implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act, Center for American Progress
This comprehensive report, compiled by researchers at the Center for American Progress, walks readers through the full history of standardized tests in American schools and the opportunities for testing reform that the Every Student Succeeds Act affords. Through parent and teacher focus groups and one-on-one interviews with experts and leaders involved with assessments on all levels, the researchers lay out a set of recommendations for states as they develop new assessment systems. Among the recommendations is to conduct alignment studies and provide support to districts as they choose interim assessments. They also recommend states demand timely test results so that schools receive the results in a matter of weeks instead of months.
The ACT released their annual report examining the testing trends of the 59 percent of 2015 high school graduates who took the ACT. The ACT had a slight increase in students meeting three or four of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, from 39 percent to 40 percent, but 31 percent of students still do not meet any benchmarks. Research has shown that meeting three or four benchmarks indicates a strong likelihood a student will succeed in college.
Rather than focusing on ways to recruit more teachers, a Brookings researcher looked at the literature to determine if the better route might be to identify pre-service teachers who will be both successful and stick around. Research has shown that successful teachers with long careers have some things in common: They generally have a positive disposition, hold students to high standards, have organization and clarity, and are self-critical and reflective problem-solvers. Of course, the researcher is quick to say that these traits are hard to measure and we may never have a perfect model for identifying teachers with these traits.