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Daily Dish: Accountability in #ESEA Reauthorization – Implications for Underserved Students

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November 23, 2015 03:06 pm

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A Washington Post article, The fight over K-12 education appears headed back to the states, explores the shift in power from the federal government to the states that would occur with the passing of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to replace No Child Left Behind (NCLB). As reporter Lyndsey Layton notes, the new law breaks down the current federal accountability system, which determined measures of success for K-12 public schools, set actions to be taken to improve struggling schools, and enforced penalties on schools and states that did not make progress. With the passing of ESEA, “decisions about how to identify successful and struggling schools and teachers, how much weight to give to test scores, and how and when to intervene in struggling schools will be left to each state,” Layton writes.

Politico Pro’s Maggie Severns dives deeper into this shift as it relates to traditionally underserved student groups. The flexibility given to states and districts to create their own accountability systems has raised concerns that states will be able to “meet the letter of the law” without ensuring that poor and minority students are succeeding. There are several factors that schools must use as performance measures, including test scores, graduation rates, and English-language proficiency, the article notes, but schools can also be rated by other measures that could count for close to half of the school’s rating, including student engagement and school climate. As noted in the Post piece, states can decide at what level schools require intervention, and also what that intervention looks like. Politico Pro subscribers can read the full article here.

John King, who will take over as acting U.S. Secretary of Education next month, said that if ESEA is reauthorized, he hopes that “state chiefs will continue President Barack Obama’s efforts to improve the quality of the nation’s teachers, identify and work to close achievement gaps, and raise learning standards.” Education Week reports on King’s speech at a forum held by the Council of Chief State Schools Offers, where he addressed the issues of the achievement gap and equity when it comes to ESEA. “This is a huge opportunity for states to think greater about how they hold schools accountable…This is an opportunity for important conversations around equity. We will be a source of technical assistance and promote sharing of resources across states.” He emphasized that states should “think more creatively about how to provide equitable, adequate, and integrated school environments for all of the nation’s children,” Ed Week writes.

If you are seeking a guide to understand how accountability will work within the proposed ESEA bill, look no further! Ed Week’s Politics K-12 blog offers a cheat sheet to understand the changes, including comparisons to NCLB. Check it out: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2015/11/accountability_and_the_esea_re.html.

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