Advocacy Update: Tracking ESSA

Inside the Beltway

What’s going on in Washington?

The ESSA Negotiated Rulemaking Committee met for the final time this past week. They were able to reach a consensus on the assessments but not on “supplement not supplant” language. The U.S. Department of Education now has full authority to regulate on “supplement not supplant” without stakeholder input. On assessments, the rulemaking committee agreed on rules related to use of a nationally recognized test at the high school level, computer adaptive testing, and testing for students taking advanced math in eighth grade.

Why should principals care?

We expect rules and regulations on Title I, particularly on assessments and accountability, to be available by late spring. For now, you can view materials on the Department of Education’s ESSA page. States have begun working on their ESSA implementation plans; they are required to consult with stakeholders, including principals, at the state level. Principals are encouraged to get involved in the process in their states now so their voice is heard as plans are developing.

In the Press

An Excellent Principal for Every School: Transforming Schools Into Leadership Machines, Public Impact

Authors from Public Impact have presented this idea paper, which envisions a new leadership staffing model for school districts that aims to spread the benefits and support of a great principal to multiple schools. Among the most innovative ideas is a tiered structure featuring teacher-leaders leading multiple classrooms while still teaching, and multi-school leaders featuring excellent principals leading principals and principals-in-training across multiple school sites. They also discuss implementation issues for the plan in the article.

ACT, Inc. and Kaplan Test Prep Partner to Make High-Quality Live Online Teaching Accessible for All Students, ACT

Following on the heels of the SAT’s partnership with Khan Academy to provide free test prep, ACT has announced they will partner with Kaplan Test Prep to provide low-income students with free access to an online ACT preparation program with live content-based instruction from teachers. The program will also be available at a low cost for all students. It will feature official study resources and real questions for a full-length ACT test, as well as access to Kaplan’s top instructors and an online forum for teachers and students.

Exploring the Foundations of the Future STEM Workforce: K–12 Indicators of Postsecondary STEM Success, Institute of Education Sciences

Researchers reviewing the research on K–12 indicators, which are significant predictors of students’ postsecondary success in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), found that the strongest predictors were the number of high school math and science courses taken, the level of those courses, and the interest or confidence in STEM at the K–12 level. These findings held up across all racial and ethnic backgrounds. Researchers noted that this is especially problematic because racial and ethnic minority students take fewer high school math and science courses than white students despite reporting similar levels of interest in STEM.

Facts: Community Eligibility Provision, Food Research & Action Center

In a new fact sheet, the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) outlines the benefits and success of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which allows high-poverty schools to offer breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students enrolled, eliminating the time-consuming school meal application process and the stigma placed on students who qualify for free lunch. In the 2015–16 school year, 18,000 schools participated in the program, about half of the eligible schools. Districts participating also reported increased revenues for the school breakfast and lunch programs as a result of no unpaid meal fees and an increase in student participation and federal funding.

Pathways to New Accountability Through the Every Student Succeeds Act, Learning Policy Institute

This comprehensive paper breaks down the various options available to states when implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and then examines the best choices for each option. Among the options considered are school quality indicators, data dashboards, use of data in decision making, diagnostic systems, and evidence-based interventions such as high-quality professional development, class size reduction, community schools, and high school redesign. Also, the Learning Policy Institute and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education released a report on redesigning school accountability efforts in 10 pioneering states.

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