Sunday, December 6, 2015

Clearing the Confusion on the Good and the Bad in the ESSA, the rewrite of No Child Left Behind

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is well over 100 pages. The bill received wide bipartisan support, winning by 359 to 64 in the House of Representatives. It heads next to the Senate.

The usual suspects have dissected and drawn out the important parts for you.

At the Washington Post they point out that the ESSA shifts authority from the federal government to the states. So, in New York State we have been wondering when or how governor Andrew Cuomo will let up his onerous treatment of teachers. See Emma Brown's "How schools would be judged under ‘Every Student Succeeds,’ the new No Child Left Behind", November 30, 2015 in the Washington Post.

Until his recent moderating moves on Common Core, one would expect that he would continue to heavily base teachers' evaluations on test scores. So, New Yorkers are in a wait and see mode on whether he will continue to heavily weigh teacher evaluation by test scores.

Same thing about how to treat "struggling schools." Obama and Bush's previous bills and bureaucratic initiatives pressed states to shut down schools. This new bill eases that, relegating the matter to the states. Do not hold your breath waiting for Cuomo to end his receivership approach to low income "failing" schools in New York.

The new bill still sets the bar for 95 percent of students to participate. But again, this time the new bill leaves the matter up to the states to decide how to act.

The new bill includes disturbing provisions that are give-aways to teacher education programs such as those funded by the New Schools Venture Fund. NSVF heavily prejudiced resources and respect to new small schools in New York City under the previous mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

Similarly Mercedes Schneider points out how the new law benefits various pay for success initiatives.
Also, she has pointed out how, while the new law has provisions for security of student data, it still requires states to collect it.

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The ESSA is a flawed bill, but it is a great improvement over the state of U.S. educational matters. It is an improvement over the extra-legislative stratagems and dictates of the Race to the Top, as imposed by the Obama/Arne Duncan administration.