Thoughts from the Field

Below are the most recent reports, recommendations, and news from the field around a variety of ESSA topics.

Personalized Learning for State ESSA Plans

Doug Mesecar, an adjunct scholar at the Lexington Institute, authored an opinion piece in The 74 discussing how states are “seizing the opportunity ESSA provides to start moving to personalized learning.” Mesecar argues “Tennessee has the most comprehensive approach to personalized learning,” and how it…

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Ed Trust Calls Attention to Importance of Setting High Expectations for Low-Performing Schools

Education Trust’s Senior P-12 Data and Policy Analyst Allison Rose Socol authored an opinion piece on state efforts for low-preforming students in their ESSA plans. Socol raised concerns that, among the 17 plans submitted to the Dept. of Education, “many are setting expectations far too…

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Ed Trust NY Comments on Draft ESSA Plan

Ian Rosenblum, executive director of The Education Trust—New York, commented on the state’s recently submitted draft ESSA plan. Rosenblum said the “plan appears to be a mixed bag for equity” but “the draft plan fails to clearly communicate whether schools are meeting expectations for all…

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High Achievement New York Releases Statement on NY’s Draft ESSA Plan

High Achievement New York released a statement on New York’s submitted draft ESSA plan. According to Executive Director Stephen Sigmund, the group was “pleased that annual state assessments are such an integral part of accountability under the draft plan.”

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Harvard Professor Argues ESSA’s Main Importance

Thomas Kane, the Walter H. Gale Professor of Education and Economics at Harvard University and faculty director of Center for Education Policy Research, argued ESSA’s main importance is the flexibility provided to the states. Kane noted, “ESSA allows states the discretion to encourage local innovation…

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CASEL Releases New Policy Brief Assessing How States are Utilizing Social and Emotional Learning in ESSA Plans

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) released a policy brief examining how states are utilizing social and emotional learning in ESSA plans. The paper suggests five ways for states to successfully incorporate social and emotional approaches: Articulate a well-rounded vision of student…

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Thomas B. Fordham Institute Praises DeVos for ESSA “State Plan Peer Review Criteria”

Brandon Wright of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute published an article praising Secretary Betsy DeVos for her ESSA “State Plan Peer Review Criteria.” According to Wright, the criteria encourage states to develop an accountability system that goes beyond just measuring proficiency. Through the use of…

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Thomas B. Fordham Institute Raises Concerns over DC’s Proposed ESSA Plan

In an opinion piece, Michael J. Petrilli and Brandon L. Wright of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute raised concerns over the District of Columbia’s proposed ESSA plan. Petrilli and Wright argued that the District’s accountability plan doesn’t “do nearly enough for high achievers, especially those…

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Chiefs for Change Highlights Opportunities under ESSA

In The 74 Million, Chiefs for Change’s Anne Hyslop highlights the opportunity for states to be innovative in their use of federal funds. Emphasizing that there is bipartisan support for the flexibility in ESSA, she notes that, “flexibility gives states an opportunity to be thoughtful…

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NASBE Launches Database Tracking State Board Activity on ESSA

The National Association of State Boards of Education debuted their “State Board Insight Database” designed to track “trends in state boards’ agendas and actions each month” on ESSA implementation. The database is a “library of all information and action items drawn monthly from publicly reported…

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DeVos Speaks to CCSSO at Annual Legislative Conference

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spoke to the Council of Chief State School Officers at their annual legislative conference. DeVos stated, “Once your state has developed a plan to provide a quality education in an environment that is safe and nurturing for all children,…

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CAP Raises Concerns over Trump’s Proposed Federal Budget

Experts from the Center for American Progress posted a blog opposing President Trump’s 2018 federal budget. CAP said the budget “would dismantle public schools through massive cuts to teacher training, after-school programs in public schools, and transfers of public funds to private school vouchers.” They…

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NGA Releases Statement on DeVos’ Simplified ESSA Implementation Plan

The National Governor’s Association (NGA) released a statement on Secretary DeVos’ simplified ESSA implementation plan release. According to the statement, the governors are “concerned that the Department’s revised template fails to prioritize proper stakeholder engagement.” NGA has “led national efforts to encourage significant input” from stakeholders and…

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New CAP Report Shares Guidelines for Designing School Classification Models

The Center for American Progress released a report on designing accountability systems under ESSA. The report’s authors encourage states not to “just comply with ESSA,” but to “take advantage of the flexibility afforded by the law in order to develop classification systems that reflect their state vision for education and that…

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CCSSO and Education Strategy Group Make Recommendations for Developing Accountability Systems that Value College and Career Readiness

The Council of Chief State School Officers and Education Strategy Group released recommendations for states as they develop ESSA accountability systems that “value college and career readiness” and “better support all students in achieving success after high school.” According to Matthew Gandal, president of Education Strategy Group, “college and career readiness is not prioritized in school…

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Recommendations for Professional Development and Student Engagements Around Assessments

The National Task Force on Assessment Education and the Council of Chief State School Officers released a recommendations “for professional development and parent and student engagement around assessments.” The guidance “helps states and districts discover provisions and flexibility in ESSA” and “outlines specific policies, practices, and language that improve individual student…

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Ed Trust-Midwest Gives Michigan’s Draft ESSA Plan “High Marks”

In an interview about their analysis of Michigan’s draft ESSA plan, Education Trust-Midwest Executive Director Amber Arellano gave the plan “high marks” and said its “focus on raising performance standards for teaching and learning will help Michigan catch up with states like Massachusetts, which has some…

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Johns Hopkins University Launches “Evidence for ESSA”

The Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University launched “Evidence for ESSA,” a website that “reviews every math and reading program for grades K to 12” and determines which programs “meet the strong, moderate, or promising levels of evidence defined in…

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Foundation for Excellence in Education Releases ESSA Innovation Playbook

The Foundation for Excellence in Education released an ESSA Innovation Playbook designed to “help state policymakers navigate and identify provisions within ESSA” to “advance state priorities including school choice, digital learning, course access and competency-based education.” The playbook outlines six provisions to support local innovation…

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LA Business and Education Groups Express Concern with Draft ESSA Plan

Nine Louisiana business and education groups – including  Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, the Urban League of Greater New Orleans and the Southern Poverty Law Center – expressed their concern with the way public school letter grades are calculated in Superintendent White’s draft ESSA…

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NY Board of Cooperative Educational Services to Host Forum About Provisions Under ESSA

The Board of Cooperative Educational Services will host a forum to discuss accountability provisions under ESSA. Feedback from the event will be used by the New York Dept. of Education and the Board of Regents to draft the state’s plan.

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The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Send Joint Letter to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce sent a joint letter to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, discussing concern over the lack of involvement by the state legislature when drafting the state’s ESSA implementation plan. The groups argued that, by failing to…

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Chiefs for Change and Education Resource Strategies Release New Policy Paper on ESSA

Chiefs for Change and Education Resource Strategies (ERS) released a policy paper examining how local leaders can “make financial transparency a springboard to real equity and better outcomes for students” under ESSA. The report examined three challenges districts are faced with financial transparency and how…

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New Set of Recommendations for State Education Chiefs on Improving Equity Under ESSA

The Aspen Institute Education & Society Program and the Council of Chief State School Officers released a set of recommendations for state education chiefs on improving equity for students under ESSA. According to Education Week, the guidelines are a “culmination of months of work by…

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NCTQ Publishes New Report on Teacher Evaluation Systems Under ESSA

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) published a new report on opportunities for teacher evaluation systems under ESSA. NCTQ argued that since ESSA does not require “teacher-evaluation systems based in significant part on students’ test scores,” states are “given states flexibility to tinker with…

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