ESSA Negotiated Rulemaking Process: Week Two Highlights

The second session of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) negotiated rulemaking committee convened last week (April 6-8) to hash out the terms of regulations relating to assessments and supplement/not supplant under Title I of ESSA.  What follows is a detailed day-by-day description of those discussions.

Wednesday April 6

The following issues were discussed on Wednesday (4/6), but no agreement was reached on any key issues:

The U.S. Department of Education (USED) staff began by outlining the agenda, noting that it was sequenced in a way they hoped would lead to productive discussions and that issues would be discussed in the order presented.  A high level summary from the March 21-23 meeting was approved with no dissent, but the ED staff reassured the negotiators that there will be a transcript of the discussions.

At the conclusion of the committee’s administrative business, the committee began substantive discussions regarding the proposed draft regulations provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

In the morning, the committee discussed the 8th grade mathematics exception and the inclusion of English learners in the assessment system. The facilitator clarified that they are seeking a tentative agreement around the individual issues, but that they will try and seek consensus at the very end of the meeting.  She encouraged committee members to express concerns throughout the three days so that concerns that may affect consensus can be reached throughout the process.  However, when the committee broke for a late lunch, no tentative agreement had been reached for either of the two issues discussed.

8th Grade Advanced Mathematics Exception:

Proposed Rule Summary: Proposed regulations allow a State to exempt 8th grade enrolled in advanced mathematics courses from the general mathematics assessments required under paragraph (a)(1)(i)(B). An 8th grade student who is assessed with an end-of-course (EOC) assessment in an advanced mathematics course will be exempt from the general 8th grade mathematics assessment if: 1) The advanced mathematics assessment the student takes is administered to high school students – as the high school mathematics assessment; and 2) The student’s performance on the assessment is used – for accountability purposes—the year the student takes the assessment.

The draft language requires the student to take a state administered EOC OR nationally recognized assessment in mathematics, subsequently, in high school that:

  • Is more advanced than the mathematics assessment (class) the student  participated in during the 8th grade; and
  • Provides for appropriate accommodations.

The student’s subsequent/more advanced high school mathematics assessment must be included in the State’s accountability system. (Must measure academic achievement, and count towards participation.)

Additionally, the state is required to demonstrate that it offers all students in the state the opportunity to be prepared for and to take advanced mathematics coursework in middle school.

Proposed regulations allow a State to exempt 8th grade enrolled in advanced mathematics courses from the general mathematics assessments required under paragraph (a)(1)(i)(B). An 8th grade student who is assessed with an end-of-course (EOC) assessment in an advanced mathematics course will be exempt from the general 8th grade mathematics assessment if:

  • The advanced mathematics assessment the student takes is administered to high school students – as the high school mathematics assessment; and
  • The student’s performance on the assessment is used – for accountability purposes—the year the student takes the assessment.

The draft language requires the student to take a state administered EOC OR nationally recognized assessment in mathematics, subsequently, in high school that:

  • Is more advanced than the mathematics assessment (class) the student  participated in during the 8th grade; and
  • Provides for appropriate accommodations.

The student’s subsequent/more advanced high school mathematics assessment must be included in the State’s accountability system. (Must measure academic achievement, and count towards participation.) Additionally, the state is required to demonstrate that it offers all students in the state the opportunity to be prepared for and to take advanced mathematics coursework in middle school.

The USED began the discussion noting that the proposed language is not significantly different from the language negotiators discussed at the first committee meeting. The department discussed various regulatory requirements, explained the peer review requirement, and discussed the option for states to utilize a nationally recognized assessment as the subsequent, high school assessment the student would be required to take. Negotiators asked several questions relating to the following issues:

  • Use of the term “more advanced than the previous assessment”
  • Effect of the exception on states and local school districts regarding adding an additional, high school advanced mathematics assessment used for accountability purposes
  • Allowing states to use a “nationally recognized assessment” in high school, to meet the advanced mathematics assessment requirement
  • The definition of “nationally recognized assessment”
  • The meaning of ‘state administered”

Negotiators encouraged the USED to utilize non-regulatory guidance to address various issues within the regulations, such as what constitutes “advanced assessment” under the regulations.

Tony Evers, Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction, raised concerns about the option of allowing states to use a “nationally recognized assessments” to meet the advanced mathematics high school requirement, noting that the regulations could prompt states to add additional, state-mandated assessments in high school. Several negotiators commented on the ramifications to states and school districts. Throughout the discussion, negotiators clarified that the current exemption truly applies only to states that have required end-of-course assessments.

Committee members discussed extensively subsection (b)(4) of the rule, which requires states to “demonstrate that it offers all students in the state the opportunity to be prepared for and to take advanced mathematics coursework in middle school.” The USED explained the proposed language, noting that the requirement was previously instituted through the Flexibility Waiver process. The Department explained that states submitted information on state policies, state laws, or even data to describe efforts to ensure that students have the opportunity to take advantage of advanced mathematics courses. Committee members expressed concern over this provision of the regulation, noting the following:

  • The proposed language extended beyond the statutory requirements of ESSA
  • What does “demonstration” include? How does a state meet this requirement?
  • The difficulty in operationally meeting this requirement for state education agencies
  • What the effects of the requirement are – for local school districts – beyond the regulatory language
  • Effect of language in states that have no control over standards and/or no end-of-course instructions

Negotiators discussed a preference to address equity requirements through non-regulatory guidance, instead of in formal regulations. Additionally, two negotiators proposed amendments to the draft regulatory text. The proposed amendments were discussed, and further modified by other negotiators. Although negotiators expressed an interest in discussing alternative language, the facilitator confirmed that the only issue of concern with the proposed text was the language in subsection (b)(4) – and indicated that it was the only issue keeping the group from achieving tentative consensus. The facilitator opted to proceed to the next issue for discussion – and allow the Department to work on the language to address that remaining issue.

Inclusion of English Language Learners in the Assessment System:

Rule Summary:  Proposed regulations reiterate ESSA’s requirements that states must include English Language Learners (ELL’s) in the state’s academic assessment system and that ELL’s must be assessed in a valid and reliable manner that includes:

  • “Appropriate Accommodations”; and
  • “To the extent practicable, assessments in the language and form most likely to yield accurate and reliable information on what those students know and can do to determine the students’ mastery of skills in academic content areas until the students have achieved English language proficiency.”

Draft regulations require states to do the following:

  • Ensure the use of appropriate accommodations does not deny any ELL the opportunity to participate in the assessment – or deny ELL’s any benefit from such participation that is not equal to the benefit afforded to students who do not use such accommodations.
  • Provide a definition of “Languages other than English that are present to significant extent in the participating student population” and identify specific languages within the state that meet this definition.
  • States are required to identify existing assessment in native languages other than English, and specific the grades and content areas in which those assessments are available.
  • Indicate languages other than English that are present to a significant extent in the participating student population, as defined by the state, for which yearly academic assessments are not available or needed.
  • Describe how it will make every effort to develop assessments, at a minimum, in languages other than English that are present to a significant extent in the participating student population – including providing:
    1. The state’s plan and timeline for developing such assessments;
    2. A description of the process the state will use to gather input on assessments in languages other than English, collect and respond to public comment, and consult w/ educators, parents and families of ELL’s, and other stakeholders; and
    3. As applicable, an explanation of the reasons the state has not been able to complete the development of assessments required under this section.

The rule sets minimum requirements for the process the state utilizes in identifying “languages other than English that are present to a significant extent in a State’s participating student population.” At a minimum, the definition has to encompass at least the most populous language spoken by the State’s participating student population. The state must also consider all populations of ELL’s, including distinct populations and languages spoken by a significant portion of the participating student population. Lastly, a state must consider languages spoken by at least 30% of ELL’s in the state.

A state is required to assess, using assessments written in English, the achievement of an ELL in meeting the state’s reading/language arts if the student has attending school in the U.S. for three or more consecutive years.  Draft regulatory language allows an LEA to assess an ELL, for no more than two additional consecutive years in the native language of the student, if the student has not reached a level of English proficiency sufficient to yield valid and reliable information on what the student “knows and can do” on reading/language arts assessments written in English.

Draft regulations define “recently arrived English learners” as ELL’s who have been enrolled in schools in the U.S. for less than twelve months. Regulations include a process by which recently arrived ELL’s may be exempted from certain testing requirements, and establish requirements for the exemption. Notably, recently arrived ELL’s may be exempt from one administration of the ELA assessment, however, the state is required to count the first year of the three years in which the student may take the ELA assessment in the native language.

USED staff provided an overall summary of the proposed regulatory text, expressing an overall interest in ensuring that assessments provide valid and reliable results for English Learners. Negotiators asked several questions on the proposed language, including identifying the following specific issues:

  • Proposed regulations address accommodations for English learners, but do not address accommodations for ELL’s that also are students with disabilities. Should that additional reference be included?
  • The difficulty in assessing a student in a native language if instruction is not provided in the student’s native language. Should that be addressed? Can it be addressed?
  • Should the regulations include a specific list of appropriate accommodations for ELL’s? Or should this be limited to non-regulatory guidance?
  • Should the regulations address who is responsible for identifying/determining accommodations of ELL’s?
  • The need to add language including the Native American, Alaska Native

Subsection (d) of the proposed text occupied much of the morning discussion on the proposed rule—which sets forth four specific factors states must consider in identifying “languages other than English are present to a significant extent in the state’s participating student population.” Department staff confirmed that states must take into account each of the factors, and several amendments were filed to either amend the section, or delete the requirements entirely. Tentative consensus could not be achieved on any of the proposed amendments to subsection (d), and the facilitator flagged the section as needing additional work. Department staff will rework the subsection, and the committee will reconsider at a later point. Related to the requirements of subsection (d), Tony Evers, Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction, cautioned the committee members on over-regulating issues relating to English-language learners.  Additionally, negotiator Thomas Ahart (Des Moines Public Schools, Iowa) recommends utilizing non-regulatory guidance to implement provisions of subsection (d), and obtains support from negotiator Alvin Wilbanks (Gwinnet County Public Schools, Georgia).

In the afternoon, the conversation resumed focusing on the inclusion of English language learners in English language proficiency assessments and the inclusion of students with disabilities in academic assessments.

The meeting intensified when negotiators considered the issue of exempting Native American students from the English language proficiency tests. The topic triggered over what constitutes over- or under-regulation.

Tony Evers, Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction, expressed concern over the draft regulatory language and the piece meal approach the committee is taking on issues. He stated, “the congressional intent” isn’t being followed. Janel George, from NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, countered that the Committee was established by ESSA, and has the responsibility of clarifying language in the law.

Negotiators then dived into a seemingly contentious issue: Assessment Issue Paper 4(a), proposed regulations detailing the inclusion of students with disabilities in academic assessments. ED’s draft regulations would require states to provide appropriate accommodations to students eligible under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and under “other acts, including section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973” and “Title II of the American with Disabilities Act.”  The sticking point was the process for determining the accommodations for students who are not covered under IDEA and Section 504. Negotiators observed that states and districts are required to pay for accommodations regardless of whether they receive additional funding and noted further that IDEA has never been fully funded, leaving school districts to redirect money from other areas to support special education services.

The subcommittee charged with creating a definition for students with most significant cognitive disabilities reported that they did not develop a definition. They, however, agreed upon principles which included focusing on ensuring the right students take the alternative assessments; recognizing that many states are accomplishing this goal; and recognizing the IEP team.

Thursday, April 7

Officials from the USED opened the meeting seeking comments on its proposed definition of “students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.” The proposal came after the subcommittee of the negotiating committee failed to recommend a definition the previous day, and offered guiding principles to assist in the development of a definition.

View the documents and agenda related to the discussions.  The following provides some highlights of the issues discussed.

Issue Paper #4a

Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in Academic Assessments

The discussion focused on assessments and accommodations for students with disabilities, including alternate assessments for “students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.”

Items discussed included:

o    Adding “pervasive in nature” to the USED’s proposed definition of “students with the most significant cognitive disabilities” was recommended by a negotiator, but others expressed caution about adding new language. With the proposed addition, the USED’s definition would be amended as: “Students with the most significant cognitive disabilities means a child with a disability or disabilities as defined under section 602(3) of the IDEA that significantly impact intellectual functioning, pervasive in nature and adaptive behavior and who require extensive, direct individualized instruction and substantial supports…”

o    A proposal to include “determination of English Learners (ELs)” to the section pertaining to students with the most significant cognitive disabilities – to safeguard EL students who also happen to be students with disabilities and to require the identification is made in a way that is linguistically and culturally valid and reliable.

Tony Evers, Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction, reiterated that he does not believe the committee needed to include a definition of “students with the most significant cognitive disabilities” in the regulation, pointing out that the subcommittee charged with that task did not recommend a definition. The issue was tabled.

Negotiators proposed additional language regarding the training of teachers and personnel responsible for administering assessments, including alternate achievement assessments. Proposals to add general education teachers, paraprofessionals and specialized instructional support personnel to the draft regulations were discussed. Concerns were raised that the expectations for training are too broad and should be more narrow. Agreeing conceptually that training is important, US ED officials agreed to revise the draft language to more accurately reflect the intended goal.

Negotiators worked to ensure that ESSA is aligned with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)—for determining which students should take the alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards. Thomas Ahart, Des Moines Public Schools, Iowa, cautioned not to recreate two federal policies (one ESSA and one IDEA), which he characterized as “a recipe for inadvertent noncompliance.” The committee agreed to include language making the ESSA regulations “consistent with” IDEA policy.

Ryan Ruelas,  Anaheim City School District in California, revisited an issue previously discussed by the committee related to why “entitled” was used to replaced “eligible for” in the draft language pertaining to “appropriate accommodations” for English Learners. ED officials said they are waiting for a legal opinion on the issue.

Issue Paper #4b

State Administration of Alternate Assessments based on Alternate Academic Achievement Standards for Students with the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities, Subject to a 1.0 Percent Cap of Students Assessed for a Subject

Negotiators next focused on the requirement in ESSA that states may not assess more than 1 percent of students on alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. USED officials highlighted that this is a significant change from No Child Left Behind, which did not limit the percentage of students tested on alternate assessments but allowed only 1 percent of those students counted toward proficiency for accountability purposes. ESSA modified the cap to apply to the administration of the assessment — allowing 1 percent of students to be tested using alternate assessments.

Under the proposed regulations, states that exceed the 1 percent cap may request a waiver from the Department.  USED officials reminded the negotiators that there is no cap on testing at the district level. However, districts exceeding 1 percent are required to submit information to the state education agency, which is responsible for oversight of the cap.

USED staff noted that the U.S. Secretary of Education has the authority to waive the requirement for states, but noted that the Department takes the cap very seriously. Staff noted that waivers should only be provided when there is an outstanding circumstance, as referenced in the law.  USED believes the regulations should provide clarity to the states and the LEAs regarding requirements/effects of exceeding the 1 percent cap.

Some negotiators proposed making publicly available the information that LEAs submit to the state to demonstrate their reason for exceeding the cap. Concerns were raised that such information could be misconstrued by the public and the media.

Ahart said the intent of ESSA is that “states might not exceed” the 1 percent cap, but ESSA didn’t legislate the district level. In addition, the information can trigger litigation against services provided in the district.  Wisconsin State Supt. Evers expressed concern that this could be a challenge for his state, which has public school open enrollment. Since many students choose to attend a particular school because of the services offers, it could cause the district to go over the cap, in which case the non-resident students would likely be sent back to their home district. “If the state comes in, the students who are enrolled are sent back to their district.  Some children will be served in a less robust environment.”

Ahart said the proposed change sends the wrong message that “the only time we pay attention is when we exceed 1%. If you don’t exceed 1% you are absolutely fine.” He noted that such schools can become a magnet to students who need the services because they are servicing the students so well, but the 1 percent shows that they are not performing well, when they really are.

Alvin Wilbanks, from the Gwinnett County Public Schools, Georgia, repeatedly discussed his concern regarding the use of the word “disproportionality” when discussing the waiver parameters for those states that exceeded the 1 percent alternative assessment cap.

Evers recommended that the proposed regulations (ii) A regarding a state’s history of disproportionality, be deleted entirely because previous data should not be used against the state when they apply for a waiver.  Evers was open to any changes to the provision, but could not see any modifications except for striking it.  Many negotiators argued strongly that this language needed to stay in the draft regulations because the data was critical to demonstrating really what is occurring in the state.

USED will work on alternative language based on the issues discussed, but noted that the prior year’s record is used when reviewing a state’s application for a waiver.

Issue Paper #3

Locally Selected, Nationally Recognized High School Assessments

This issue is a new element in ESSA, which permits school districts to use a high school assessment as an alternative to the state assessment. Districts choosing to use a “locally selected, nationally recognized” assessment must demonstrate the assessment is aligned to state content standards and of high quality.  ED’s proposed definition of a “nationally recognized high school assessment” included a requirement that the assessment must be administered in multiple states and that it isused by higher education institutions in those states for determining entrance into postsecondary programs. In addition, districts that choose to administer such alternative test must provide the test to all students in the district.  A district must apply to the state to use a locally selected nationally recognized assessment.

Several proposed changes were made to the definition of “nationally recognized high school academic assessment.”  Negotiators from large school districts also expressed concern over the requirement that all students in the district be required to take such tests.  Specifically, Derrick Chau, from the Los Angeles Unified School District, California, proposed to strike the proposed language that the test is used by higher education institutions for entrance purposes. Lara Evangelista from New York City Public Schools proposed to remove the requirement that all students must take the same nationally recognized assessment because it would be a challenge in large, diverse districts like hers.

“My concern is the challenge of implementing something like this in a large district,” said Chau. He proposed that school districts include a timeline for the administration of the nationally recognized assessment test to all students. The topic was tabled.

Modifications were made in this section of the proposed regulations to reflect that some charter schools are LEAs and that the alternative school districts would have to provide meaningful consultation with  all public charter schools in their districts whose students would be included in the assessment.

Negotiators debated the extent to which regulations should specify the type of public notification needed for parents. Proposals to add that school districts must provide information in a “culturally competent” format.  In other areas, proposed changes requiring districts to “orally translated” for parents if written materials in a specific language are not available, was put in.  Thomas Ahart expressed concern over the practicality of that language. He also proposed to remove the specific examples under ADA which he said were already required under that law.

Issue Paper # 1

Computer Adaptive Tests

Negotiators made progress by agreeing on the proposed language of using computer adaptive tests, including adaptive alternate assessment and adaptive English language proficiency assessment. ESSA allows a state, at its discretion, to use computer adaptive tests. These tests must go through the peer review process as other assessments do.  Prior to agreement, some negotiators stated that technology accessibility can be an issue.

Closing Conversation:  Definition of Students with the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities

During the closing discussion, negotiators revisited the issue of defining students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

Some negotiators expressed that it was a very important issue and asked what would need to happen for dissenting negotiators to support the definition. Wilbanks responded that he believes that IDEA is the most regulated and litigious law, he believes that it is best left up to the special education teachers and parents to decide on what is best for the students.

The facilitator agreed to come back to the discussion regarding the definition.  In addition, there were no public comments.

Chau proposed a  subcommittee  to look at the growing number of dual immersion schools that are required to test in English.  He requested a subcommittee to look at assessments with dual immersion schools and how that might fit into the regulations.  There was some interest expressed by negotiators.

USED cautioned that this might not be legally possible as it may fall outside of the legislation.

USED also noted the Friday session would begin with a discussion of “supplement-not-supplant” and move onto the other issues previously discussed.

Friday April 8

The first agenda item discussed in-depth was Supplement Not Supplant.  The USED staff explained the proposed regulation, indicating that the purpose of the regulations is to give more clarity to states and districts, since this will impact more than non-Title I eligible schools within a district.

However, the issue polarized negotiators, with local administrators explaining district financial operations and budget allocations and spending.   Other negotiators praised the new requirements, but raised additional concerns as well.

Before lunch, the facilitator summed up the conversation by saying that those responsible for implementing the regulations are having a difficult time figuring out how the proposed regulations could be implemented.   USED staff responded that they understood the district-level concerns raised, but that there is an equity issue and that Title I schools are not getting the funds that non-Title I schools receive.  USED staff indicated that the underfunding of our high poverty schools was the basis for their proposed regulations.

The facilitator reiterated that all negotiators are very committed to student success, and what she observed as hurtful is the implication by some that this is not the case. She observed that solutions are not being proposed, but rather, she’s seeing more of a “ping-pong” match.

The following proposed language was discussed at length from the Issue Paper: Supplement Not Supplant under “Compliance.”

(b) Compliance (1) School costs or services.

(i) To comply with paragraph (a) of this section, an LEA must annually demonstrate, at such time and in such manner as the SEA may reasonably require, that the methodology it uses to allocate State and local funds to each Title I school ensures that the school receives all of the State and local funds it would otherwise receive if it were not a Title I school.

(ii) An LEA may determine the methodology it will use to allocate State and local funds to its schools, provided that the methodology –

(A) Results in the LEA spending an amount of State and local funds per pupil in each Title I school that is equal to or greater than the average amount spent per pupil in non-Title I schools as reported under Section 1111 (h)(1)(C)(x)  of the Act; and

(B) Allocates an amount of State and local funds that is sufficient to enable each Title I school to provide:

(l) the basic educational program as defined under States or local law; and

(ll) In conjunction with the funds provided under the IDEA, services required by law for students with disabilities; and services required by law for English learners.

The first term under this proposal, “Basic educational program,” included in (B)(1), proved very concerning to some negotiators.  The issues discussed included:

  • How will this work operationally within a state and school district?
  • When something is not defined for an auditor or a state legislator, it takes years for the definition to mature.
  • The steps a district would be required to take to comply with the proposed requirements would not allow the district to serve the students that are being served now.
  • Add language to further define “basic educational program.”
  • Strike the term or further address it in guidance.
  • How this affects Maintenance of Effort?
  • How would this impact schools that are really doing a good job?

Tony Evers, Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction, questioned how “basic educational program” would work in practice. “How is that being determined? In Wisconsin there’s no statutory language defining the term. He said he is fearful that the determination would be left to auditors.

Moving on to sub-section (A), items of concern noted by negotiators included:

  • The need for additional funding to fulfill the requirement.
  • One negotiator said the “flexibility” afforded in the section makes her “nervous,” suggesting in the absence of new money, districts can relocate funds from the administrative office to the classroom.
  • Focus more on the “methodology” of funding allocation.
  • How can we reach the intent of Title I – does ESSA require using average per-pupil spending?
  • Should the term “average” be changed to mode?
  • Proposal to change the criteria from “spending” to “allocation.”

Alvin Wilbanks, from the Gwinnett County Public Schools, Georgia, said, “the big issue is the averaging for per-pupil expenditure.” He added, “Sure there should be checks and balances, but at the same time we have to have a process in place to do what we have to do. You can’t add more regulations and requirements and make it impossible to implement.”  Wilbanks noted that having a methodology in place is more effective and that perhaps a compromise is looking at USED’s 2015 supplement not supplant non-regulatory guidance.

In addition, some negotiators expressed concern over how this proposed regulation could affect districts in states that use a weighted student funding formula (per-pupil allocation is differentiated by student needs). Ryan Ruelas, Anaheim City School District, California, which uses weighted student funding, cautioned the proposal could “really punish and disincentivize” weighted student funding by obscuring the funding in Title I and non-Title I schools.

After the lunch break, the committee resumed discussion on supplement not supplant. Proposals were made to strike some proposed language, but no agreement was made. USED will review the issue again based on all the concerns expressed and propose something more workable. The following are the proposals and concerns expressed:

  • Proposal to remove sub-section (B) regarding average per-pupil spending
  • Adding language addressing non-Title I schools serving high numbers of students with disabilities and English language learners and children from low-income families
  • Proposal to move the criteria of methodology used by districts from regulations to guidance.
  • Proposal to allow districts to rebut perception/appearance of violation.
  • Concerns over having to move teachers around to achieve per-pupil spending requirement.

Thomas Ahart, from the Des Moines School District, Iowa, expressed concern that, “Unless I violate my teachers’ contract to move them around, I can’t meet the regulation or reallocate funds as the regulation dictates.”  Several negotiators opposed removing the per-pupil funding criteria.  ED officials said that the goal is to review the proposed language and come up with something less burdensome for school districts.

The next issue addressed was Issue Paper #6 with recommendations from USED. This topic focused on explaining and clarifying the assessment requirements in ESSA. Several issues were brought up during the discussion:

  • Proposal to add language regarding “measure student performance at different ability levels” based on challenging state academic achievement levels.
  • Concern that some assessments do not capture the performance of lower performing students.
  • Add language to make sure assessment information available to the public via “alternate means” in addition to the state’s website.
  • Discuss the definition of a child in foster care, homeless child or youth and migratory child.


Summary: The ESSA Negotiated Rulemaking Committee finished its second work session, in which it did not come to an agreement on any of the issues except for Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT).  The committee will reconvene for a third session on April 18 and 19. The USED staff will re-work the proposed regulations on which agreement has not been reached based on the feedback received this week from committee members.