Advocacy Update: Tracking ESSA

NASSP Holds Student Briefing on Capitol Hill

The newly founded NASSP Student Leadership Advisory Committee held its first public event last Tuesday on Capitol Hill. Two student members, a teacher, and a principal were featured at the briefing titled “Technology in Schools: Student, Teacher, and Principal Perspectives.” Check out the Storify of the event featuring tweets and photos taken by committee members. Stay tuned to the School of Thought blog for more perspectives on the event from committee members.

Inside the Beltway

What’s going on in Washington?

The ESSA Negotiated Rulemaking Committee convened for their second meeting this week at the U.S. Department of Education (ED), and the negotiations have become more contentious. Of particular issue this week continues to be the testing for students with disabilities and the particulars around “supplement, not supplant,” such as how to define a “basic education.” Negotiators were also divided on whether charter schools would be able to elect to give a nationally recognized test in high school, and what the threshold would be for requiring a state to translate a test into a particular student group’s native language.

Why should principals care?

Central to the debate between negotiators is the question of how much ED should be regulating and how much should be left up to the states. On each issue, some negotiators fear that not regulating would result in states offering subpar education to some students, while other negotiators worry about saddling states with too many rules and regulations. Each issue would have a real impact on how ESSA is implemented. While principals have been hearing about the increased flexibility to come with the new law, many pieces of the law are still undecided, and major questions remain.

In the Press

Helping to Level the AP Playing Field: Why Eighth Grade Math Matters More Than You Think, Brookings Institution

This blog post summarizes findings from a larger study on tracking and advanced placement. The study found that tracking, which is defined as placing advanced students in a higher course, particularly in mathematics, beginning in middle school, is common across all 50 states. While considered controversial and potentially harmful to students, the researchers found that states with larger percentages of tracked eighth graders produce large percentages of high-scoring AP test takers by the end of high school. There is no association between tracking and participation in AP exams, so higher scores cannot be attributed to only advanced students taking the exam. Researchers provided some potential reasons for the resulting data, but more study is needed.

Career and Technical Education in High School: Does It Improve Student Outcomes?, Fordham Institute

This newly released study relies on data from Arkansas students to determine whether greater exposure to CTE resulted in better graduation, college, employment, and wage outcomes for students. The study found that students who “concentrated” in CTE, taking three or more courses in the same subject, were 21 percent more likely to graduate high school and had higher employment rates and wages later on. They also found that CTE had the greatest boost for students who are not always reached by college-prep course sequences, mainly boys and students from low-income families. Most students in the study took courses at their comprehensive high school and some at regional technical centers.

Sleep Duration and Injury-Related Risk Behaviors Among High School Students, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The CDC analyzed data from the national Youth Risk Behavior Surveys from 2007–2013 to conclude that not only is insufficient sleep common among high school students, but it has been associated with greater risk behaviors. In particular, the study examined the link to infrequent bicycle helmet use, infrequent seatbelt use, riding with a driver who had been drinking, drinking and driving, or texting and driving. The likelihood of each of these behaviors was significantly higher for students who reported less than seven hours of sleep on an average school night.

Meandering Toward Graduation: Transcript Outcomes of High School Graduates, Education Trust

By examining the transcripts of high school graduates, researchers at Education Trust found that only 8 percent of graduates complete a full college- and career-preparatory curriculum. Nearly half complete neither type of curriculum, and high schools tend to prioritize credit accrual rather than the type of coursework taken. College-ready was defined as taking the courses expected for entrance to most public colleges, including three years of science and two years of a foreign language. Career-ready included three courses in a broad career field, such as health science or business, but also more technical education.

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