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Daily Dish: ESSA Updates – Negotiated Rulemaking, Input from Civil Rights Groups, and Innovative Tests

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March 07, 2016 02:05 pm

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The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has named a group of negotiators to work with it on regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). As part of the “negotiated rulemaking” process required by the law, ED will determine regulations with negotiators on three sections of the law – standards, assessments, and supplement-not-supplant (how states and districts spend their own funds in relation to federal money), explains Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog. The committee includes teachers, principals, state and local administrators, paraprofessionals, and representatives of the civil rights community, business community, state and local boards of education, and more. View the full list of negotiators courtesy of Ed Week.

The negotiations, which will include at least two rulemaking sessions in March and April, will begin with assessments and supplement-not-supplant, according to Ed Week. Rulemaking for other areas of the law, including accountability, is done through the typical regulatory process, without in-person meetings.

In other ESSA news, more than fifty civil rights groups, including the Alliance for Excellent Education, sent a letter to Acting Secretary of Education John King emphasizing the importance of ED’s role in ensuring equity and accountability for all students, but especially traditionally underserved student subgroups. The letter was also signed by Education Trust, MALDEF, Easter Seals, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and many others. Politics K-12 explains that “this may be the organizations’ way of providing a kind of counterweight to another recent letter from governors, state boards of education, teachers’ unions and other groups calling for flexibility to be at the center of ESSA regulation.”

Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

This new law includes serious protections for vulnerable students, and creates important leverage for parents, communities, and advocates to continue their push for equity and accountability for all students. ESSA is clear: The department has the authority and responsibility to issue regulations and guidance, and to provide guidance and technical assistance for the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

For today’s students—especially students of color, students with disabilities, English Learners, Native students, low-income students and other vulnerable students—the challenges are different than they were more than 50 years ago, but the stakes are at least as high. Given the long history of state and local decisions shortchanging vulnerable students, the department cannot shirk from its regulatory and enforcement responsibilities to ensure that the implementation of ESSA eliminates, not perpetuates, persistent inequities in our nation’s public education system.

Read the full letter here.

Lastly, Politico’s Morning Education reports that seven states will have the opportunity to pilot innovative assessment systems under ESSA. These states, which will be picked by the education secretary, will start with a few districts, with the goal of expanding statewide. New Hampshire already received approval for its new test, the Performance Assessment for Competency Education, which measures student progress based on their demonstration of competency and is built into every day learning.

Morning Education reports that New York, Colorado, Maryland and Vermont are also interested in the program. Vermont Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe “said she wants to weigh applying for the pilot carefully against the state’s existing Smarter Balanced system,” explains Morning Education, “It’s important to ensure that these innovative tests are producing valid and reliable data, she said, especially when the data is factored into school ratings.”

Include link to our ESSA resources, including the fact sheet on assessments, at all4ed.org/essa.

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