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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ESSA: Action and Involvement

I am the start of understanding the Every Student Succeed Acts (ESSA). I'm beginning by reading through NEA's related information. As I read I'm wondering if my district will employ an implementation team as I've read that other systems are putting together teams. As I read about ESSA, I recognize that an ESSA team should include the following stakeholders:

From NEA ESSA Information

I started by analyzing information provided by the NEA's Opportunity Dashboard Indicator below. The print in black is from the NEA site linked at the title and my comments with regard to my own work are listed in blue.

As I analyzed the information below one factor I found to be critical is the process with regard to data collection, analysis, and share. It's important that the process is transparent, fair, and inclusive. This will be a critical consideration going forward. 

The Every Student Succeeds Act, to help ensure opportunity for all students regardless of ZIP code, requires state accountability systems to include at least one “Opportunity Dashboard” indicator of school quality or student success.

Key Provisions

  • Under ESSA, state-designed accountability systems must include the following indicators:
    1. Math, reading assessments
      • Our district currently has assessments related to this--I wonder if we will keep our district assessments or make change. I know that our state is updating its assessments related to math and reading.
    2. Graduation rates
      • Fortunately I work in a system that has high graduation rates. I would want to look at these statistics again to see if there is anything more K-12 that we can do for the few that don't graduate. This would be important information to share with district personnel to gain ideas about betterment.
    3. Another statewide indicator for middle and elementary schools
      • I wonder who and how this indicator will be chosen. I know that the State had a survey regarding this and I suggested that the indicator be a family assessment of the schools. If that were to be chosen, I believe that it would be very important to pay attention to the kinds of questions asked, and the transparency about data analysis and reporting. 
    1. English language proficiency
      • Our state currently tests this area. Perhaps it would be better if the results were transparently shared with all educators so we could see how students were doing in each school and in the district in general. This kind of transparent share could lead to better work and problem solving. 
    2. At least one indicator of school quality and student support (the “Opportunity Dashboard” Indicator), such as:
      • Student engagement;
        • Since I work in a system where parents take a lot of leadership with regard to school issues, we generally hear about a lack of engagement and are encouraged to provided an engaging program. As educators we generally look for ways to teach in engaging ways. We could assess this, but I don't think it would offer us as much growth as other areas.
      • Educator engagement;
        • It would be interesting to see what educators felt about this. Again, however, it would be important as to how the survey was conducted, data analyzed, and the transparency of share. Often times surveys are given, but the data is not shared in ways that are helpful.
      • Student access to and completion of advanced coursework;
        • I worry about advanced courses for many reasons. First I worry about AP courses because many say they are taught in only one way which is not the way that everyone learns. Also I have heard that these courses are more content driven than process which worries me too. I also worry about this because some students have access to tutors and others don't which means some have a better support system for success in these courses. I worry as well because some students are not allowed to enter these courses because their education start was hindered by economic, support, or emotional/cognitive issues which means they're not on track for these courses. I think these courses in part can work against equity. Instead I'd like to see hybrid courses that are creatively designed with many levels or types of achievement possible. This is more akin to today's learning and success.
      • Post-secondary readiness;
        • This is important. How are our students achieving once they leave our schools. I would be very interested in this, and I would like to see the survey created in inclusive, fair ways that result in good data to work with. 
      • School climate and safety; and
        • Again, I feel this is an important area, but again who and how the survey is done is critical. Too often people are afraid to add their honest opinions on surveys due to the fear of reprisal.
      • Any other state-chosen indicator that allows for meaningful differentiation of school performance, and is valid, reliable, comparable, and statewide
        • I'm sure our State will make suggestions about this.
  • Every year, the state must meaningfully differentiate all public schools in the state based on ALL of the indicators it includes in its accountability system, for all students and for each subgroup of students. States have a great deal of discretion over these indicators, and states also have the flexibility to determine the weights assigned to each indicator for the purposes of differentiation, so long as Indicators 1-4 weigh more in the aggregate than Indicator(s) 5. States must also differentiate any school in which any subgroup of students is consistently under-performing, as determined by the state, based on all the indicators.
    • Recognizing this makes me realize that it's very important to influence the indicators used to judge schools. I want to think with colleagues about what is most important in this regard. I will serve on the State's Teacher Advisory Cabinet, and it's a good chance we'll discuss these indicators as the State readies its plans for the 2017 deadline. Also as our Union thinks about our negotiations we will want to consider these new factors and the role of teachers in identifying and implementing these indicators for our district. 
  • States must collect and report on the indicators in its accountability system,disaggregated by student subgroup, and should quickly remedy any gaps in the resources, supports, and programs. The subgroups of students are: 1) economically disadvantaged students; 2) students from major racial and ethnic groups; 3) children with disabilities; and 4) English Learners.
    • I want to get a head start on this with regard to my teaching. So when I collect data for my class this year I will look at the factors above as I think about the teaching/learning program and student progress. Our school has done quite a bit to think about this in past years and have set some tentative goals for the future too. 
  • Feasibility: All of the examples of indicators of school quality and student success can be measured and disaggregated by these four student subgroups.
    • I will share this information with leaders who are responsible for choosing tests. I will also look for the ESSA laws that acknowledge that educators have to be part of the decision making--I've heard of these, but have yet to see them. 
  • As educators, parents, community leaders, and policymakers grapple with selecting the right mix of Opportunity Dashboard Indicators to add to states’ accountability systems, examples of these indicators can be found in NEA’s Opportunity Dashboard.