This Week’s ESSA News: Helping Cut the Cost of CTE, Few State Accountability Plans Incorporate the Arts, Individual School Spending Data Reveal Big Difference & More

This update on the Every Student Succeeds Act and the education plans now being implemented by states and school districts is produced in partnership with ESSA Essentials, an ongoing series from the Collaborative for Student Success. It’s an offshoot of their ESSA Advance newsletter, which you can sign up for here! (See our recent ESSA updates from previous weeks right here.)

The Collaborative for Student Success earlier this month launched Assessment HQ, a unique online platform that takes the guesswork and risk of misinformation out of state annual assessments by providing transparency on student proficiency and state testing decisions.

As a part of ESSA, states are required to give annual assessments to students in grades 3-8 in English language arts and math. For the first time, the student proficiency data for more than half of states will be publicly available online, and in one location, for anyone to view and use.

Assessment HQ will highlight state-reported student test results in math and English by student demographics and will allow users to see trends in individual states and observe the performance of different student groups, such as African-American and Hispanic students. While annual assessments can always be improved, they are one of the best tools we have to provide an honest check on states to ensure that the decisions and policies affecting young people are grounded in evidence and real results.

Federal programs, including ESSA, defray CTE costs

In Education Dive, Shawna De La Rosa discusses how “three federal laws have an impact on CTE programs — the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.” Schools that leverage these programs “can create better pipelines for students to work in careers that don’t require four-year college degrees,” according to Scott Stump, U.S. assistant secretary for career, technical and adult education. Stump spoke in front of a meeting of state school board members earlier this year.

The arts and ESSA

“While there is a growing recognition that the arts are central to a well-rounded education, schools have been slow to incorporate that into curriculum,” writes Naaz Modan. “Though the Every Student Succeeds Act listed the arts and music as [tenets] of a well-rounded education, few state plans have formally included the arts in their accountability plans.” Jane Best, who serves as director of the Arts Education Partnership, said that “while arts educators were open to exploring the possibilities that the law created, they remain unsure as to how to insert themselves into the conversation.” Bringing arts into the classroom as a whole, she said, remains a “slow-moving” machine.

State-by-state funding breakdown

Education Week’s Andrew Ujifusa drills down on the Education Commission of the States study on K-12 funding. He reports that ESSA has “brought a new focus to school funding and how it works, including a new federal requirement for states to report how much individual schools receive per pupil.” However, the different ways states are providing schools with this support — and how they approach different student populations, such as special education students, English learners and low-income students — can and do diverge significantly. For example, eight states — Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho and South Dakota — do not specifically address at-risk funding for low-income students, while all the others do in some way. The study looks at all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

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