How ESSA will boost ed-tech funding

The Every Student Succeeds Act includes block grants intended for technology, among other uses. It also opens the door to new state testing systems

essa-ed-techEight years after the No Child Left Behind Act was supposed to expire, Congress finally passed a bill to replace it—the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—that gives states more latitude in deciding how to close achievement gaps. The legislation also includes a sizeable state block-grant program intended for technology, among other uses.

Although it’s not the program that ed-tech advocates had hoped for, many expressed cautious optimism that a section of ESSA under Title IV (“21st Century Schools”) could help schools use technology tools to transform teaching and learning.

“We’re pleased that the federal government has renewed its commitment to funding educational technology,” said Lan Neugent, interim executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association, in an interview. “It’s great to see that become a priority again.”…Read More

Every Student Succeeds Act shifts more power to states

Much-anticipated bill attempts to satisfy all stakeholder groups as it moves away from NCLB mandates

every-student-succeedsWhile a “new and improved” version of the hotly-debated No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) would still require reading and math testing in grades 3-8 and once in high school, states would have much more leeway when it comes to defining teaching and learning objectives and outlining accountability measures.

The Every Student Succeeds Act gives states the power to determine their own academic goals and measure progress toward those goals–a departure from NCLB, which aimed for 100 percent math and reading proficiency by 2014.

States or districts will be in charge of determining how to improve persistently underperforming schools. Previously, NCLB gave the federal government a strong voice in what happened to those schools. Now, under Every Student Succeeds, schools requiring much intervention would be among the lowest-performing 5 percent in the state.…Read More

More than half of students struggle with reading, report says

New report examines literacy development and urges Congress to do the same as NCLB rewrites progress

reading-literacyNearly half of minority students and students from low-income families enter the fifth grade without basic reading skills, according to a new report urging Congress to focus on students’ literacy development beginning in early childhood.

Noting that 60 percent of both fourth and eighth graders currently struggle with reading, the report from the Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE) notes that Congress should put an emphasis on students’ literacy development from the early years and up through grade twelve as it works to rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

The report, The Next Chapter: Supporting Literacy Within ESEA, is based on the 2013 results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card. According to the report, 50 percent of African Americans, 47 percent of Latinos, and 47 percent of students from low-income families read below NAEP’s basic level.…Read More

Tough slog ahead in Congress for NCLB rewrite

Debate about testing looms over the promise of a NCLB compromise

nclb-congressU.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander earlier this month announced a symbolic breakthrough in the decadelong ideological wrangling over how to rewrite the nation’s chief education law.

Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate committee working to renew the law known as No Child Left Behind, agreed to scrap his own proposed bill in favor of a new version he would craft with Murray, the committee’s ranking Democrat.

Yet the promise of a bipartisan first draftand quickening momentum that Congress may pass a reauthorization that is seven years overduehas only heightened the political fissures.…Read More

‘Supplemental service’ firms flourish with NCLB

Firms that offer private tutoring and standardized-test preparation are scrambling to cash in on what could be a multibillion-dollar bonanza created by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which requires public schools to expose students to an unprecedented battery of assessments and offer tutoring, summer classes, and remedial instruction to those who fail.

Districts nationwide have turned to the private sector for help complying with the law, and in doing so have created a “supplementary educational services” industry that barely existed five years ago, executives said.

Princeton Review Chief Executive John Katzman said the company’s K-12 division, which runs after-school programs and helps students prepare for standardized tests, now has 2,000 client schools, up from none two years ago. The division now produces about 15 percent of the company’s business. Within three years, Katzman said he expects it to represent 25 percent.…Read More

ED: Online programs key to boosting achievement

Online courses and other technology-based programs will play a key role in helping educators meet new requirements for supplemental services under the No Child Left Behind Act, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) told school leaders during a nationwide conference June 13-14. But while many administrators were satisfied by ED’s guidance, others said the department left questions unanswered.

The ED-sponsored event, “Serving all Schoolchildren and Increasing Options for Parents,” brought more than 300 school decision-makers together in the nation’s capital to listen, share suggestions, and ask questions about the Bush administration policy, which now holds all schools accountable for ensuring that students achieve “adequate yearly progress” (AYP).

AYP standards are defined by each state according to their own criteria. The standards were created under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1994, but schools have not been held accountable for meeting these standards until now.…Read More