ESSA Provides Flexibility for Oregon Educators to Improve Performance by District

ESSA Provides Flexibility for Oregon Educators to Improve Performance by District

October 20, 2019

In a shift from its predecessor NCLB, ESSA has given the Oregon Department of Education (DOE) greater flexibility to address and improve student performance across entire school districts rather than individual schools. Educators who have experienced both approaches “are hailing the change,” according to this piece by Betsy Hammond. While new state rules that went into effect last year may seem confusing—the state now only analyzes “which schools did worst overall” every third year—they are helping foster an environment in which the Oregon DOE and district leaders work together to “examine districtwide structural problems and find districtwide levers for change.” Rather than dictating solutions or enforcing federal mandates, as was common under No Child Left Behind, the state’s new accountability system is allowing educators to “better deal with the root causes” of specific problem areas, such as low graduation rates, chronic absenteeism, and more. Because of the changes afforded by ESSA, “the state has made a 180-degree turn and now listens, asks probing questions, offers suggestions and lets districts take the lead,” according to North Clackamas School District Assistant Superintendent Joel Stuart.