Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

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President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, ESSA, and this new law replaces the No Child Left Behind Act, NCLB. ESSA was approved by a rare, broad bi-partisan consensus, passing 359-64 in the House and 85 to 12 in the Senate. ESSA is 1061 pages long, and includes numerous changes to federal education law.

In effort to review the changes that will have the greatest impact upon educators, this post will discuss the Assessment portion of the legislation. The following blog posts have been previously published:
• ESSA: Special Education Guideline Changes
• Every Student Succeeds Act, ESSA: Standards

Teachers are hopeful that ESSA will bring about positive changes with assessments, such a reduction in the amount of time spent on testing.
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In the past, if students did not make “adequate progress” towards federal proficiency standards, the federal government could impose penalties.
Goodbye NCLB, and Hello ESSA.
Needless to say, under NCLB, administrators in schools became over-focused with test results. Working for Fairfax County Public Schools, I had the opportunity to observe in schools and meet many teachers who taught for schools within the boundaries of Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools. As an educator, for months, I observed both general and special education students in inclusive, self-contained, and general education classrooms in Fairfax
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New Hampshire’s system of competency-based learning will show mastery and growth more accurately than a single end of year exam or state assessment. In this system, students only move up a grade after they’ve mastered the defined skills for each grade level.
The New Hampshire pilot is as an example of how assessment of student progress can be done differently. The Performance Assessment of Competency Education, PACE, that provides a picture of student growth different from the norm, measuring growth rather than proficiency, and its design includes critical educator input.
As states begin to write their state plans, educators have the opportunity to have a strong voice. As the focus on implementation during the 2016-2017 school year approaches, teachers, parents and advocates need to secure a seat at the table to collaborate, and partner, with state legislators, school boards, superintendents to make sure implementation goes
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