What’s at Stake for Schools in ESSA Implementation? (Part 3, State Report Cards)

Today we continue a several-part analysis of what decisions the state and local districts will need to make to implement the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Our first post covered some of the basics of the new law; the second examined the decisions ESSA requires states must make as they develop state accountability plans. We now look at decisions surrounding state report cards and other topics areas where the state must make decisions.

States play a key role in ESSA implementation. School leaders should examine state-level Title I decisions with an eye toward how they will impact your district at a local level as well as for how these decisions provide opportunities for collaboration and consensus building.

Additional Provisions in the State Plan
As it implements ESSA, the state must determine:

  • How it will provide assistance to districts and schools using Title I dollars for early childhood education;
  • Whether low-income and minority children enrolled in in schools that receive Title I assistance are not served at disproportionate rates by ineffective, inexperienced or out-of-field teachers;
  • The measures it will use to evaluate and report the progress of school districts with respect to teachers serving low-income and minority students;
  • How it will help districts improve conditions for student learning (e.g., safe schools) and help decrease the risk of students dropping out;
  • How it will ensure educational stability for children in foster care, including the process for allowing students in foster care to:
    • Remain at their school of origin;
    • Immediately enroll in a school even if records are not immediately available;
    • ensure the transfer of foster student records; and
    • determine who will be a point of contact for child welfare agencies.
  • How it will provide support to districts serving homeless children and youth.

State Report Cards
In terms of refining state report cards, states must:

  • Determine what additional information they will have to collect in order to meet the law’s new requirements (e.g., new subgroups such as children in foster care, homeless children and children of military families; school quality and school climate data, pre-school data and school level expenditure data.
  • Report on the professional qualifications of teachers. (As part of this reporting, states will have to determine what constitutes “inexperienced” teachers.)
  • Decide if they will require any additional information regarding school progress, beyond what is required under ESSA.
  • Meet the requirement that they publicly provide cross-tabulated data (by racial and ethnic group, gender, English language proficiency status, and disability status) on student achievement measures, high school graduation rates, the “other academic indicator,” and assessment participation rates (assessment/non-assessment rates).

    Approval of Local Plans
    The state must develop a process for approving local plans, which must include how the state will determine if the local plan provides that schools served under Title I help the children being served meet the challenging state academic standards required under ESSA. In addition, the local plan must include how the school district will identify and address “any disparities that result in low-income students and minority students being taught at higher rates by ineffective, inexperienced or out-of-field teachers.”

    Participation of Children Enrolled in Private Schools
    A new requirement under ESSA is that the state must decide who will serve as ombudsman within the DPI responsible for monitoring and enforcing requirements under ESSA related to non-public school participation in federal education programs.

    (Next:  Key decisions for School Districts under ESSA’s Title I Provisions)