This Week’s ESSA News: State Report Cards’ Data Makeover, Where’s Alexander, AZ’s Transient Students

This update on the Every Student Succeeds Act and the education plans now being refined by state legislatures is produced in partnership with ESSA Essentials, a new 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.)

Educators for High Standards — in partnership with Learning Forward and Teach Plus — asked educators what kind of professional learning they want and identified the key components of high-quality, effective professional learning that are laid out in the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Based on conversations with six educators from five different states, the new report explores how schools and districts can provide educators with the opportunities they need, want, and deserve.

What did they find? Teachers “crave high-quality, collaborative, teacher-led professional learning opportunities and are eager to implement new strategies in their classrooms.” Educators for High Standards also found that strong professional learning is important to “ the future of the teaching profession.”

Take a look at Educators for High Standards’ website to see interviews with these veteran educators, where they detail how their professional learning experiences have transformed their teaching practices, their colleagues’ instruction, and, ultimately, their students’ learning experience.

In other research news, the final installment of Higher Ed for High Standards’ Leveraging ESSA series details “the extent to which both the 34 states that submitted ESSA plans in September 2017— as well as states as a whole — took advantage of the approaches from Leveraging ESSA and updated accountability measures to align K-12 and higher education to support long-term student success.” The report, “Shining a Spotlight on K-12 and Higher Ed Alignment in ESSA,” also suggests actions for states as they implement their plans.

In other ESSA news this week:

State report cards get a makeover and 2,107 reportable data points.

Education Week examines how ESSA is helping to give state report cards a “head-to-toe makeover,” in both their look and the way data are displayed. With ESSA, states must present this information in an “easily accessible and user-friendly” manner, and with “plenty more data points than was required under No Child Left Behind.”

These data points include spending, educator and administrator quality, discipline, and availability of such things as preschool, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate. And all these categories are “broken out by more than 10 student subgroups.”

In sum, a state must include “an estimated 2,107 data points about its public school system, the Council of Chief State School Officers predicts.” However, how to organize and display this “taxonomy of school success” has “sparked a wide-ranging debate over the politics of language, the explicit and implicit meanings of color shades, and what parents want — versus what they need — to know about their local schools.”

Will Alexander weigh in on ESSA?

In the third part of Education Reform Now’s series, Charles Barone and Dana Laurens write that “it would be more than a little surprising if a seasoned pro like Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) were to break the deal he made with his congressional colleagues on key ESSA provisions.” But the authors say that since ESSA’s passage in 2015, Alexander “has been, to say the least, fickle in his fidelity to the law he co-authored.”

The article also says it’s “important to note that adherence to the law doesn’t seem to be a matter of partisanship,” as ESSA’s other Republican co-author, former House Education and Workforce Committee chairman John Kline, “went public in August with his concerns about state plans that violated key statutory provisions.”

Arizona plan sparks concern for transient students.

An Education Week blog takes a look at Arizona’s ESSA plan and how civil rights advocates are voicing concern regarding its impact on transient students. The plan, already approved by the U.S. Department of Education, “attaches different weights to students test scores, depending on how long a student has been at a particular school.”

It is “concerning that there is a weight based on time in school and that students could potentially count less if they are enrolled in school for a shorter time. This could potentially have a disparate impact on disadvantaged students who move during the school year due to extenuating circumstances,” said Callie Kozlak, who manages a multi-state campaign on ESSA’s implementation for the long-standing Latino advocacy group UnidosUS.

The Arizona Department of Education doesn’t agree, however, saying the system is designed to make sure schools are truly held accountable “for the work they’ve done with students they’ve been educating for years, as opposed to the kids who just walked in the door.”

Want to stay up to date? Click here to sign up for the ESSA Advance newsletter to receive all the information in your inbox every Wednesday.

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