Friday, August 19, 2016

Please Testify in State Hearings on ESSA Plans: Point Out the Road Away from Test-and-Punish | janresseger

Please Testify in State Hearings on ESSA Plans: Point Out the Road Away from Test-and-Punish | janresseger:

Please Testify in State Hearings on ESSA Plans: Point Out the Road Away from Test-and-Punish

This blog will take an end-of-summer break after today.  Look for another post on Monday, September 5, 2016.
Last December’s newly reauthorized federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, uses the power of the federal government to continue holding states and schools and school districts accountable for raising students’ test scores. However, Congress turned some of the control for how all this will work back to the states, who no longer have to follow so many federal prescriptions but who still have to present an accountability plan and tell the U.S. Department of Education what they are going to do to improve the lowest scoring schools. Gone are No Child Left Behind’s demands that schools make Adequate Yearly Progress; gone are mandatory turnarounds such as school closure and privatization for so-called “failing” schools; gone is the federal requirement that states use students’ standardized test scores as a substantial portion of formal teacher evaluations.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) demands that states come up with their own accountability plans which they must submit for approval to the U.S. Department of Education. What this means is that there is a window for change, but it must bubble up spontaneously across the 50 states. If public school supporters are to achieve any kind of policy that is more supportive and less punitive, we are going to have to organize and begin working for long-term change in the culture of punitive, test-and-punish accountability that has been normalized over the past two decades.
Where to start?  A good rule to remember, if you get a chance to testify to any kind of hearing on the plan ESSA says your state must develop, is that the hearing is a good place to present the core principles that underpin your understanding of the mission and importance of well funded and equitable public schools.  The U.S. Department of Education itself accepted comments, about 20,000 of them, until the beginning of August on the rules it is developing to implement the new Every Student Succeeds Act.  One of these comments, submitted by the Vermont State Board of Education, raises some of the most important concerns as states develop the plans they will be submitting.  Although we don’t yet even know whether the federal Department of Education will correct the Department’s draft rules to ameliorate the problems the Vermont letter identifies, Vermont’s State Board of Education models a way to speak to some of the most basic problems in current accountability-centered school policy.
The Vermont letter begins by attacking the very premises of test-and-punish school reform: “Our Board is proud to represent a state where the people support a strong state funding system, enjoy schools that foster high student performance and register narrow equity gaps as compared with the nation. Nevertheless, the opportunity gap is our most pressing concern and is the number one goal in our strategic plan. With these traditions and values in mind, we have strong concerns and reservations about ESSA. Fundamentally, if we are to close the Please Testify in State Hearings on ESSA Plans: Point Out the Road Away from Test-and-Punish | janresseger:
 

LATEST NEWS AND COMMENT FROM EDUCATION

LATEST NEWS AND COMMENT FROM EDUCATION
EduBloggers

Latest News and Comment from Education