Congress this week gave final approval to long overdue legislation to replace the No Child Left Behind Act, which has been in place for nearly 14 years. The replacement, signed into law today by President Obama and known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), makes some big changes.
This is the first in a series of blog posts that will look at the changes made by the new law and what they might mean for Wisconsin schools.
For Wisconsin as well as 41 other states and the District of Columbia that have received waivers from many of the law’s accountability mandates, NCLB has arguably been a thing of the past for a while, at least in some important ways.
Those waivers, however, will end by August 1, 2016 and states will transition from being governed by those state-by state waivers back to being governed by the federal statutory framework of the ESSA, which requires states to develop new state accountability plans to take effect beginning with the 2017-18 school year.
Under the ESSA, states will develop and submit plans for increasing the achievement of low-income students to the U.S. Department of Education (USED) in order to receive Title I grants. The state’s education agency (e.g., the DPI) will take the lead in developing the state plan, but is required to work “with timely and meaningful consultation” with the governor and other state policymakers (e.g., legislators), school districts (including those located in rural areas), representatives of teachers, administrators, and other school staff, and parents. Each State Plan must be made available for public comment for at least 30 days prior to submission to the Secretary.
Once submitted, the plan will undergo a peer review by “multi-disciplinary teams” appointed by the USED and representing education stakeholders and researchers. Neither the Secretary nor USED political appointees may participate or attempt to influence the peer review process. The peer review teams have 120 days to make their decision.
These peer review teams must include representatives of parents, teachers , principals, other school leaders, specialized instructional support personnel, state education agencies school districts and the community (including the business community) as well as researchers who are familiar with the implementation of academic standards, assessments and accountability system and how to meet the needs of various groups of children such as disadvantaged students, children with disabilities and English language learners.
Should the plan fail to be approved initially, the Secretary will notify the state and provide all supporting material and the peer review team’s rationale for the decision. The Department will further offer the state technical assistance when making revisions. A hearing is also available unless the state declines.
Next… What Must Be Included in the State Accountability Plans