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This Week’s ESSA News: Why Kentucky Is Revamping Its School Accountability System, How California Can Pair Additional Education Funding With More Effective Reporting & More

By Erika Ross | June 10, 2019

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.)

In this EdNote piece, Molly Sarubbi explores how states can build awareness — and construct relevant policy supports — to help foster students succeed academically. “The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) outlines provisions that encourage more collaborative policy development and implementation that mitigate barriers for highly mobile individuals, such as foster youth and students experiencing homelessness,” she writes.

Those who go through foster care have generally moved frequently and been forced to endure many academic transitions during their K-12 years, which can drive down graduation rates for these students. ESSA addresses this situation “by emphasizing the importance of limiting educational disruption by keeping children in their schools of origin when in their best interest.”

Sarubbi notes that there are cases in which implementing these ESSA provisions has been challenging “given the siloed nature of various entities supporting foster youth.” However, despite “structural barriers, some states have brought key stakeholders together and strengthened supports for this population through legislative activity in 2019.”

See below for this week’s other top ESSA headlines:

Kentucky revamping accountability system

According to Olivia Krauth at Insider Louisville, Kentucky’s school accountability system will soon undergo meaningful changes as a result of the passage of recent legislation. “The state changed how it identifies schools for additional support last year in compliance with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act” and then “rolled out two labels: Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) and Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) — the bottom 5% of schools and those with student subgroups performing at that level, respectively.”

But now, “those accountability identifiers could change, altering the TSI definition for fall 2019 and adding a third tier of support in fall 2020.”

If implemented, Kentucky “could see fewer schools identified for support but more underserved groups slipping through the cracks.”

California boosts education funding — but how to make it most effective?

Aaron Garth Smith takes a critical look at California’s latest increase in education funding. He argues that the additional funding must be accompanied by greater effectiveness, citing how under ESSA, states have to publicly report school-level, per-pupil spending.

“Since California has to get in compliance with this mandate, it should take the opportunity to simultaneously modernize the state’s reporting system to help give districts, principals, parents, and community stakeholders the information they need to make sound decisions.” For example, a “report could be created showing how funding levels compare across schools,” or another “could highlight each district’s most productive schools by comparing expenditures with outcomes.”

Support for social-emotional learning strong among educators

recent teacher and administrator survey from the RAND Corporation says it is no surprise that support for SEL is growing across the country given that research is showing that “students’ social and emotional competencies are related to improvements in achievement and in other outcomes.”

The authors explore deep questions related to SEL, such as which SEL skills do educators think work best, what kinds of practices and programs are schools developing and implementing, and what do educators say they need to do to successfully implement such programs? Additionally, the report notes that “funding for SEL programs is available through the Every Student Succeeds Act, which offers a broad definition of school and student success” and allows districts and schools to implement SEL programs to meet the needs of their specific students.

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