April 27

States Challenge ESSA Provisions on English Learners


Important and timely federal educational news within Partners for Each and Every Child’s process and protest context. 


Process and Protest:
To advance educational excellence and equity, we must prioritize the needs of our most vulnerable students and communities. To accomplish this goal, we need clear processes for the development of policy, and we need to take into account opposition to current and proposed policies and practices – protest – as a healthy part of those processes. 


States Challenge ESSA Provisions on English Learners

The Issue:

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires states to provide the public with a greater amount of information about how the academic achievement of English learners (ELs) and how they are progressing towards English proficiency, than its predecessor, known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). ESSA also requires states to set long-term goals for ELs and measure their interim progress towards those goals. Every state in the country has submitted a consolidated ESSA state plan to the United States Department of Education (US ED) to demonstrate how they will comply with the requirements of the law. States have had their plans approved on a rolling basis; there are 13 states, including California and Florida, that are still awaiting approval.

 

California:  California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), passed into law in 2013, established requirements for dialogue among state education officials, districts, schools, and local communities that in some ways presaged the stakeholder engagement requirements in ESSA. There are, however, significant differences between some of ESSA’s requirements and some of the features of California’s system of educational funding and school accountability and support. California’s main concern in developing an ESSA plan was figuring out a way to maintain the essential features of the state’s system without having to design and run an entirely separate and distinct system for federal educational accountability. California submitted its plan to US ED for approval in late 2017, and has since made revisions to the plan based on feedback from US ED officials.

Florida:  Approximately 20 years ago, Florida developed a test-based, easy-to-understand data and accountability system for its schools. That model deeply influenced the development of NCLB, but also stands in stark contrast with some of ESSA’s specific requirements. Florida’s initial submission of its draft state plan to US ED was met with widespread disapproval from civil rights advocates and some federal legislators. These groups were concerned that Florida’s plan did not comply with ESSA’s requirement that states include the performance of individual student subgroups as a factor in the grades assigned to schools. The initial plan submitted by Florida also indicated that it would not comply with another of ESSA’s requirements: that schools be held accountable for the progress made by English learners towards learning English.

 

The Process:

California: The California State Board of Education recently approved revisions to the state’s ESSA plan and conveyed it to US ED for final approval. It is widely expected that US ED will approve the plan fairly swiftly, as many of the changes made by the state were the product of direct consultation and negotiation with US ED officials. Once approved, the plan will go into effect for the upcoming school year. California has also requested a waiver for ESSA provisions regarding the measurement of English proficiency for ELs.

It is unclear whether US ED will decide on California’s waiver request before or after it has approved the state plan. Once the plan is approved, California will still need to determine its approach to two items that are not fully detailed in its plan: how the state plans to provide support for the lowest-performing schools; and what state government agency or related entity will provide assistance to districts.

Florida: After receding feedback from US ED, Florida has re-submitted its ESSA plan for approval. Florida’s revised state ESSA plan keeps its accountability system essentially the same as in the earlier plan. The state contends that the performance of student subgroups will be indicated on report cards, which will be modified to add a “federal percent of points index,” that includes EL progress towards English proficiency. The index will be used as part of the process of identifying low-performing schools. Florida is also asking US ED to grant it a waiver from some of ESSA’s statutory provisions on testing so it can reduce testing for middle school students taking advanced math and science courses.

 

Learn More:

 

Be a Part of the Process:


Partner and Friend Updates:

 

 

Be a Part of the Process

Stay up to date on the U.S. Department of Education decisions at ED.gov, where you can read updates from Secretary DeVos and subscribe to the US ED newsletter.

You can also advocate for all students by learning more about your state education policy – right now, states across the country are releasing drafts of their plans to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). These plans have open public comment periods and your input is critically important.

Call or visit your senators and representatives to express your opinions.

April 12

Changes Loom for School Discipline Guidance; Teachers Strike in Several States; NAEP Scores Released


Important and timely federal educational news within Partners for Each and Every Child’s process and protest context. 


Process and Protest:
To advance educational excellence and equity, we must prioritize the needs of our most vulnerable students and communities. To accomplish this goal, we need clear processes for the deliberation and development of policy, and we need to take into account opposition to current and proposed policies and practices – protest – as a healthy part of those processes.


Changes Loom for School Discipline Guidance

The Trump administration has indicated its willingness to rescind Obama-era guidance, but has not clearly articulated a timeline for the rescission, a process for deliberation, nor what would replace the rescinded guidance… READ MORE >


Teacher Strikes Grow Across Several States

Over the last two months, teachers in different states have either gone on strike or threatened to strike, demanding better pay, better school conditions, more funding for education in state budgets, and other related policy changes. … READ MORE >


NAEP Scores Released

Various organizations and news outlets are reporting on the newly-released 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores – aka “the Nation’s Report Card” – and providing context for the communities they serve… READ MORE >


Partner and Friend Updates:

  • Agents of Their Own Success: Self-Advocacy Skills and Self-Determination for Students with Disabilities in the Era of Personalized Learning. National Council for Learning Disabilities has released a report that explores how to make the idea of student agency real for every student, and that examines the notion of power and agency in reform efforts. The report comes with an accompanying social media toolkit.
  • All Children, Our Future: Civil Rights and Education Conference, The Leadership Conference Education Fund will convene a full-day conference in Washington, D.C. on May 2 about critical areas of concern and interest for the civil rights community in education, discussing strategies for action. Check out  the full agenda and register here.

 

 

Be a Part of the Process

Stay up to date on the U.S. Department of Education decisions at ED.gov, where you can read updates from Secretary DeVos and subscribe to the US ED newsletter.

You can also advocate for all students by learning more about your state education policy – right now, states across the country are releasing drafts of their plans to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). These plans have open public comment periods and your input is critically important.

Call or visit your senators and representatives to express your opinions.