(submitted by Emily Zuccaro)
The newest version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was recently approved in the House and the Senate, redefining federal, state, and local role in schools.
The oldest version, No Child Left Behind, expired in 2007 and had not been authorized since then. No Child Left Behind ushered in federal mandates for school performance and growth measures across the country, in order to achieve proficiency in reading and math for every child by 2014. States have sought waivers to relieve them from the burden of the measure, with Kentucky receiving a waiver in 2012.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) gives states more localized decision-making power over the types of standards and assessments given to students. Testing will still be conducted in grades 3-8 but states will be given the authority to set their own goals and intervention measures in order to aid low-performing schools. Low-performing schools are defined as high schools having a 67% or lower graduation rate, for example. Other interventions must be done in the bottom 5% of students as well as subgroups who show little growth from year to year.
In creating their own accountability systems, states will have to consider at least four indicators, such as success on state tests, English language proficiency, and some other factor that can be disaggregated by subgroups. The last indicator has to cover something such as positive climate or access to advanced coursework. States have to account for participation rates on tests, thanks to opting-out trends that have grown in popularity in the country.
Opting out information: http://www.fairtest.org/get-involved/opting-out
The bill also deters any incentivization or motivation to adopt a certain set of standards like the Common Core in federal mandates like Race to the Top.
The bill also discards the former “highly qualified teacher” language of No Child Left Behind and teacher evaluations are no longer tied to student performance.
Both sides of each party are reveling in the measure for different reasons which can be foundhere: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2015/12/inside_the_essa_spin_room.html