Lily Eskelsen García: Let’s remember the early promise of ESSA and double down on
WASHINGTON –(ENEWSPF)–November 28, 2016 – Earlier today the U.S. Department of Education released final accountability regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act.
The following can be attributed to National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García.
“Since it was signed into law last December, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has reinvigorated the national conversation about equal opportunity for all our students and opened a window to a new direction for our students and schools. With the accountability regulations released today, we know there is still work to be done.
“Although these regulations make some important improvements, NEA still has concerns about whether the Department is being overly prescriptive in a manner inconsistent with the bipartisan compromise originally intended in ESSA.
“One of the most important and welcomed provisions of ESSA was the removal of so-called Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Too many schools were being improperly labeled as low-performing when they were unable to meet unrealistic expectations. ESSA presents a major opportunity to move away from the “test and punish, blame and shame” era that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) shackled our schools with for nearly 14 years.
“Reasonable people understand a single test score does not define student learning. Assessments should be designed primarily to enhance learning, not to simply get data for a report. Unfortunately, the new regulations continue to punish schools that do not test at least 95 percent of students, which happens whenparents exercise their right to opt their children out of standardized tests.
“The final regulations continue to list possible school interventions, such as closing schools or converting them to charter schools, which are not in the statute and were left to district decision-making after consulting with stakeholders. Although there are many examples of interventions on the Department’s list, the Department should not weigh in when the statute clearly leaves the decision to state and local decision-makers.
“The regulations released today also continue to limit states’ flexibility in setting goals for long-term achievement, reporting requirements and defining “consistently underperforming” schools.
“NEA is, however, encouraged by the Department’s call for meaningful stakeholder engagement and its specific mention of teachers, paraeducators, Specialized Instructional Support Personnel (SISP) and other educators in the decision making. We knowwhat works: Collaboration. Opportunity. Innovation. We must remember the early promise of ESSA – to ensure that all of our students, regardless of their ZIP code, have access to a great public education.”
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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing nearly 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.
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