States can choose their own indicators of school quality or student success that move beyond traditional accountability measures based on test scores and graduation rates.
Regulations do not prescribe an “n-size,” or minimum number of a particular group of students at a school, for that group of students to be included for accountability purposes.
If a school is scoring at the lowest-possible level on any academic indicator, it has to get a different summative rating than a school that’s getting top marks on all the indicators.
The regulations state that, “To ensure that differentiation of schools is meaningful, the accountability system should allow for more than two possible outcomes for each school.”
For each accountability indicator, there must be three distinct levels of performance assigned to schools that are “clear and understandable to the public.”
Regulations do not dictate how states must deal with schools that assess less than 95 percent of all their students.States find the solution themselves.
States now have these four options to address an individual school’s low test-participation rates: (below 95%)
(1) assign a lower summative rating to the school;
(2) assign the lowest performance level on the State’s Academic Achievement indicator;
(3) identify the school for targeted support and improvement.
(4) switch to a different test and vendor.
States must identify schools with subgroups that, based on the state’s indicators, underperform over two or more years.
Of the weights that must be used for different accountability factors, the academic factors would have to have a “much greater” weight than the measures of school quality or student success in accountability systems.
Schools identified for “comprehensive support” can’t get that label removed on the basis of progress in that indicator, unless it is making sufficient progress on other indicators.
Each subgroup of students (like economically disadvantaged students and those in special education) must be considered separately for accountability. (“super subgroups” or the big groups combining several different subgroups of students that proliferated under waivers from No Child Left Behind, can no longer be used in place of an individual subgroup of students.)
Schools in need of comprehensive support include: the bottom 5 percent of Title I schools in the state; high schools with graduation rates below 67 percent for all students based on the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate; and Title I schools with chronically low-performing subgroups that have not improved after receiving additional targeted support.
Schools in need of targeted support include schools with a low-performing subgroup performing similarly to all students in the bottom 5 percent of Title I schools
The end of the “pass/fail” era of No Child Left Behind: “Proposed regulations clarify ESSA’s statutory language by ensuring the use of multiple measures of school success based on academic outcomes, student progress, and school quality, thereby reinforcing that all students deserve a high-quality and well-rounded education that will prepare them for success.”