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Here’s what schools need to know about ESSA right now

Under new administration, DeVos, what’s going on with the ESSA?

Recently, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told the Council of Chief State Schools Officers (CCSSO) that states should continue to move forward with their ESSA plans. However, accountability regulations may be significantly changed. What exactly does this mean for schools?

The Difference between NCLB, ESSA and Common Core

In 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was implemented, replacing the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Due to the rapid transition from NCLB to ESSA, it is important for educators and vendors to be aware of the key differences between the two. Steve Rowley, CEO of Acumen Partners, and with Michael Campbell, vice president of Acumen Partners, presented the latest updates on ESSA in the webinar, “Making Sense of ESSA: What You Need to Know,” co-hosted by and MCH Strategic Data.

To start, Rowley addressed any confusion regarding the Common Core State Standards. ESSA did not replace the Common Core, and although the states are required to have standards, it prohibits the Department of Education from forcing the adoption of a particular set of standards. “This is a question that we receive a lot,” he said. Since the Common Core is not a federal initiative, it is unaffected by ESSA.

A key characteristic of ESSA is that the federal government has acknowledged that many decisions belong at the state level—something the Trump administration supports.

Accountability Plans

States will now be responsible for accountability, and each state will have to submit their own accountability plan to be peer reviewed.

Under the Obama Administration’s accountability template, accountability systems (supported by tracking and data technology) involve four primary indicators: proficiency on state tests; English language proficiency; another academic factor that can be broken out by subgroup; and a “wild card” item that each state can choose within certain guidelines.

States can also set additional benchmarks; for example, these may allow for certain high school benchmarks which would not apply to elementary or middle schools. Each state must be aware of how to accurately track their benchmarks.

DeVos has kept in place the Obama administration’s timeline for submitting the plans, which includes one early bird deadline on April 3 and one later deadline on September 18.

As of press time, Education Week reports that 17 states plus the District of Columbia have told the department that they are shooting to have their plans ready in time for the April date.

But…Accountability could Change

Though DeVos says states should move along with their ESSA plans, the Obama administration’s accountability template part of ESSA is currently under review by DeVos and Congress.

According to DeVos, she and her team are reviewing the Obama administration’s ESSA accountability template because some measures may not be “absolutely necessary.” The new department may release a revised or completely re-written template for states by mid-March this year.

Another potential change is that DeVos’ department may also allow a state or group of states to work together to write their own template through the CCSSO.

If DeVos does allow a state or group of states to devise their own accountability template, it may prove difficult for peer reviewers to determine quality and manage expectations due to a lack of uniformity. However, DeVos and her department could also change the guidelines for peer review—something her camp has not yet mentioned.

(Next page: What can schools and educators do concerning the ESSA?)

What can Schools and Educators Do?

Though accountability and peer review templates could change, Rowley still says any school interested in how the ESSA may affect them should become very familiar with the current plan.

“I can’t stress enough—find your state accountability plan and become very familiar with it,” he said. While there is no designated area for locating each state accountability plan, Rowley recommends becoming familiar with your state education agency’s website and keeping a lookout for announcements of things like requests for comment and draft plans.

Outside of state agency websites, keeping abreast of policy news out of Washington, can help you ask the right questions of your state leaders.

About the Presenters

With more than 20 years of experience in business management, Steve Rowley, CEO of Acumen Partners, has had an illustrious career at the crossroads of business and education. Prior to igniting the flame that grew to be Acumen Partners in 2012, Steve engaged in principal leadership positions in leading organizations including Pearson, McGraw Hill, Master Teacher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and EdLights. His knowledge and experience in the education sector are unrivalled. He utilizes his experience to decode and resolve problem areas, meet the challenges of an ever-changing market and empower others irrespective of the industry. Prior to embarking on his mission to help his clients realize their own success through work at Acumen, and other educational solution companies, Steve obtained his B.S. in economics from Brigham Young University in 1994. He was a Wright Leadership Fellow and enjoyed being a member of the BYU marching band.

Michael Campbell’s passion for improving education through technology and digital literacy has facilitated private and not-for-profit organizations solutions support for the learning community. For over 20 years, Michael has held executive, marketing management and sales positions spanning the K-12, higher education, corporate training, technology and publishing industries. Currently Michael is the vice president of client development at Acumen Partners. Michael has held leadership positions in sales and marketing with Learning Bird, Forward Thinking EDU, Follett Software Company, ETA hand2mind, Pearson, Cengage and McGraw-Hill Higher Education. In his spare time Michael enjoys volunteering at his daughter’s school district’s PTO as a member of their executive board, and supporting the Fox River Grove Memorial Public Library as a trustee and officer of the board.

Join the Community

EdFocus: The EdMarketing Community is a free professional learning community (PLC) that will help you connect with colleagues in the education industry to share information and resources, raise questions, and get advice. The EdFocus community hosts webinars that are live meet-ups, keeping you up-to-date on the latest trends. It has never been more important to keep up on what’s happening in education, and how it impacts your marketing and sales efforts. Tap into the knowledge of industry experts and peers with EdFocus.

The recording of the webinar can be viewed by anyone here.

[Editor’s note: This piece is original content produced by more events here.]

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