ESSA, What is it and Why it is important to proceed with caution!?! | Connections 4 Success

ESSA, What is it and Why it is important to proceed with caution!?!

Most of you by now have heard of the new Department of Education Law, Every Student Success Act (ESSA), signed into law December 20, 2015. ESSA is the final law to replace No Child Left Behind. The overarching goal of ESSA is a lofty one, but necessary to improve the downward spiral our education system has taken in the United States over the past decades. We must invest in the future of our country, and to do this, we must reinvest in our students! It is our obligation as educators, stakeholders, and communities to ensure our students are graduating proficient not only in mathematics, language, writing, comprehension, science, but in holistic development encompassing skills training, the arts, technology, social, and emotional growth.

The full implementation of the ESSA law and regulations will be required for all school districts across our nation with the start of the 2018-2019 school year. Here is a snapshot of the ESSA timeline of events:

Every Student Succeeds Act was enacted with the following goals: Improve academic performance, Uphold high standards for all (regardless of their background), Ensure students graduate prepared for either careers or college, and to Recognize the need for a diversified education law to encompass the diversities of our student population and education systems in the United States. ESSA stands to change our education system in the United States by enacting the following regulations:

  • Ensures States Set High Standards
  • Maintains Accountability and Guarantee Targeted Resources and Remediation Measures
    • For Low-Performing Schools
    • For Subgroups of Students Who are Struggling (Low Income, ESL, Disabilities, Homeless, Students with Military Parents, and Foster Care)
  • Removes the Federal Mandates and Empowers State and Local Decision Makers to Ensure Performance
  • Requires Transparency to all Parents and Stakeholders on Academic Performance and School Identification as low performing
    • School Identification categorization for improvement fall under two categories: Comprehensive Support and Improvement and Targeted Support and Improvement
  • Preserves annual assessments, but enables States to identify a streamlined testing and accountability measurement schedule
  • Provides Increase Access to High-Quality preschool education
  • Establishing the New Resources and Methodologies of Teaching based on “Promising Best-Practices” and “Proven Strategies to Drive Opportunities”
    • Engagement of Stakeholders: Community-based Organizations, Local Officials, Workforce, Employers, Post-Secondary Institutions, and Trade Centers
    • Programmatic Efforts Focusing on Mentoring, Civic Duties, Community Engagement, STEM/STEAM Programs, and After School Activities
  • Consolidated State Plans to eliminate the duplication of services and silos of funding across all State Education Agencies (SEA’s)

Once again, I will reiterate these are lofty goals for our states to undergo within four (April 3 deadline) to nine months (September 18th deadline). This feat to be achieved with the highest and most efficient impact for our education system and the future of our nation’s next generations will require a collective effort. It is imperative to have ongoing communication across the state’s elected officials, state education systems, cyber/charter schools, community-based organization, and local stakeholders, to drill down to these four key areas:  

  • Education Methodologies with Highest Effectiveness for all populations
  • Areas Requiring the Highest Level of Improvement to achieve Proficiency
  • Teacher Quality and Development
  • Accountability of High-Quality Education and Graduating Students with Proficiency

Developing a solid plan across all SEA’s with these four benchmarks at the forefront of all final decisions will enable your state the highest probability of producing a solid and effective plan.

Although, I will warn all states to keep an open mind, as well as, to heed with caution in finalizing your ESSA State Plans. As the United States prepares to onboard a new administration with President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence, there comes the movement of “Make America Great Again.” Without becoming too overly political, I will make a clear statement to say, “this means a change in course of the majority of our federal departments and a reevaluation of the current laws.

I guarantee, the Department of Education and the ESSA Law will be at the forefront of priority and scrutiny. Betsy DeVos, president-elect Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, is pending congressional approval this week. We know she is an advocate for School Choice and the Voucher System, therefore I ask you, how do you believe her position will weigh in on the following:

  • Ensures States Set High Standards
  • Maintains Accountability and Guarantees Targeted Resources and Remediation Measures
  • Requires Transparency to all Parents and Stakeholders on Academic Performance and School Identification as low performing
  • Establishing the New Resources and Methodologies of Teaching based on “Promising Best-Practices” and “Proven Strategies to Drive Opportunities”

I leave my fellow educators, stakeholders, and community-based organizations with this final thought, “Proceed with awareness during the next 100 days while formulating strategies and developing the highest quality State Plans for the next generations’ education system.” Awareness will empower you to drive to success!

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