Every Student Succeeds Act Implementation Committee Share Facts About New Law at Helena High School

ESSA Tour SDE staffMembers of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Implementation Committee visited Helena High School on August 18 as one of nine stops on the statewide ESSA Community Engagement tour.

Several State Department of Education Executive Staff Members attended the meeting including acting state superintendent, Dr. Phillip Cleveland; assistant state superintendent, Dr. Jeff Langham; communications director, Dr. Michael Sibley; and interim deputy superintendent, Dr. Mark Kirkemier.   Also present were Shanthia Washington, director of the office of student learning and Jenna Ross, secretary of early childhood education.

ESSA Tour superintendentsMichael Sentance, who was recently approved by the State Board of Education to be the new state superintendent, also his first appearance at a public school since his appointment.

The ESSA Implementation Committee explained to audience members the plans to implement the new law, which replaced No Child Left Behind and will offer greater decision-making and flexibility at the state level rather than federal level.   States must submit their plans for implementation of the new ESSA law by spring 2017.

Here are some additional points about ESSA that were highlighted at the meeting:

ESSA prohibits the US Department of Education or other federal agencies from dictating or requiring
specific curriculum or specific tests.
  • ESSA rules govern Alabama’s federal education programs funding for over $500,000,000 annually.
  • Alabama determines teacher certification requirements.
  •  Alabama determines education standards and student testing.
  •  Alabama determines annual achievement goals and sets criteria for reporting school and school system performance.
  • Stakeholders must be included in the planning process.
  • Testing is required in math and English language arts in grades 3-8 and once in high school.
  • Testing is required in science once in elementary grades, once in middle grades, and once in high school.
  • States determine the assessment to be used; states may use national assessments such as ACT for high school testing.
  • Results of testing must be reported by student groups (poverty, ethnicity, special education, ELL, migrant status, homeless, foster, etc.)
  • Requires that 95% of students participate in state tests.
  • Results must be reported in at least three performance levels.
  • State-defined education standards in English language arts and math must be aligned to credit-bearing coursework in state universities (reducing the need for retaking high school level classes in college.)
  • The US Department of Education is prohibited from making states use education standards.
  • States develop education standards for all subjects and all grade levels.
  • Measures of mastery of education standards must be reported by at least three performance levels (such as “exceeds standards”, “meets standards”, or achievement is “below standards.
  • States develop accountability reporting plans for U.S Department of Education approval.
  • Must “meaningfully separate” school performance.
  • States must continue to report progress toward closing achievement gaps.
  • Must contain at least four measures including achievement, graduation rate, and at least one other measure which may be a growth measure.
  • Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is replaced by state-defined measures of performance.
  • States must continue to report progress toward closing achievement gaps.
  • States must identify schools for “comprehensive support and improvement” and “targeted support and improvement.”
  • States must identify schools in the lowest five percent of performance and high schools with graduation rates below 67 percent.
  • States must identify schools with persistently poor performance by student groups at least every three years.
  • Local school systems are responsible for monitoring school improvement plans that are evidence-based and that address school level needs.
  • ESSA includes programs to improve achievement for students in foster care, students involved in the juvenile justice system, and students in danger of dropping out of school.
  • ESSA continues to require that federal funds be used to “add to” but not “replace” other types of education funding.

After making their presentation, the ESSA Implementation Committee fielded several questions from the audience.  They also allowed 2010 Oak Mountain High School graduate Daniel Chaplin, who has Down’s Syndrome, to share his experience as a former student who benefitted from an inclusive classroom environment.  Chaplin is now a successful and independent young man working in the mail room at an attorney’s office.

The Alabama ‘Every Student Succeeds Act’ Implementation Committee is interested in your ideas and comments. The ESSA Implementation Committee is accepting comments at https://form.jotform.com/61555715735158 until October 30.
You can also email ALSDE at essawg@alsde.edu for the duration of ESSA.

For more information about Alabama’s work toward a customized plan for public education, visit the Alabama State Department of Education’s ESSA website: http://www.alsde.edu/dept/essa/Pages/home.aspx.


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