Big items in the ESSA:
States will no longer have to do teacher evaluation through student outcomes, as they did under NCLB waivers. The NCLB law’s “highly qualified teacher” requirement is officially a thing of the past….
States are required to adopt “challenging” academic standards. That could be the Common Core State Standards, but doesn’t have to be. The U.S. Secretary of Education is expressly prohibited from forcing or even encouraging states to pick a particular set of standards (including the common core)…
States can create their own testing opt-out laws, and states decide what should happen in schools that miss targets….
Up to seven states can apply to try out local tests for a limited time, with the permission of the U.S. Department of Education….
Districts will work with teachers and school staff to come up with an evidence-based turnaround plan.States will monitor the turnaround effort.If schools continue to founder, after no more than four years the state will be required to step in with its own plan. A state could take over the school if it wanted, or fire the principal, or turn the school into a charter.
Only 1 percent of students overall can be given alternative tests. (That’s about 10 percent of students in special education.)
Districts that get more than $30,000 have to spend at least 20 percent of their funding on at least one activity that helps students become well-rounded, and another 20 percent on at least one activity that helps students be safe and healthy.
The current Title I funding formula remains intact, but there are some changes to the Title II formula (which funds teacher quality) that will be a boon to rural states.
A pilot program will let 50 districts try out a weighted student-funding formula, combining state, local, and federal funds to better serve low-income students and those with special needs.
States have to figure in participation rates on state tests. (Schools with less than 95 percent participation are supposed to have that included, somehow.) But participation rate is a stand-alone factor, not a separate indicator on its own.
Recommended new State Actions to deal with the new law.
A. General Assembly: create bill prohibiting linking teacher accountability with test scores in the state of Delaware.
B. General Assembly: remove Delaware from the Smarter Balanced Assessment and come up with State test designed by real educators.
C. General Assembly: pass bill that says all those applying for OPT OUT before March 1st, will not be counted in the participation rate of test takers. They will be a separate class removed from the formula in figuring participation rates. Participation rates will be figured based on those students who did not opt out before the deadline.