Key Issue: Every Student Succeeds Act - ESSA

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Key Issue: ESSA

Key Issue: ESSA

The Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, has presented Pennsylvania with a once-in-a-decade opportunity to help reshape public education in the commonwealth. PSEA has been at the forefront of that opportunity, working diligently with Gov. Tom Wolf's administration to help design a comprehensive, forward-thinking state ESSA plan.

Pennsylvania's plan, approved by the U.S. Department of Education on Jan. 17, 2018, focuses on a more balanced approach to school accountability, reducing time spent on high-stakes standardized testing, and increasing supports for Pennsylvania educators and students. The plan will be fully implemented in the 2018-19 school year.

ESSA Implementation

Implementing PA's ESSA plan in 2018-19

In the 2018-19 school year, Pennsylvania will implement its Every Student Succeeds Act plan. Educators will primarily notice two key changes during the first year of ESSA.

One is that a single focus on standardized test scores will be replaced by multiple measures to track student achievement – test score proficiency, test score growth, progress among English Language Learners in attaining English language proficiency, career readiness, and chronic absenteeism.

The other is that the state will now measure student achievement – including all the above indicators and more – at the building level and not the district level.

State ESSA plan puts focus on multiple measures of school and student performance

Pennsylvania's ESSA plan, developed by Gov. Tom Wolf's administration with input from PSEA, relies on multiple measures to track school quality, emphasizing both proficiency and growth on state standardized tests as well as other factors such as graduation rates, growth in English language learner proficiency, chronic absenteeism, and career readiness.

The plan also creates programs to address teacher recruitment and preparation as well as school and student programs emphasizing STEM, career planning, safe school environments, and access to advanced coursework.

PSEA is pleased that the Wolf administration included educators in the development of this plan. ESSA workgroups convened by the state Department of Education included 15 PSEA members and staff as part of a diverse cross section of stakeholders.

The approved plan takes an important step in the right direction for our students and our members. Moving to multiple measures of school success shifts the focus to students and uses standardized tests in a more balanced way. It also ensures the public sees a broad spectrum of information on how a school is performing.

"I'm pleased that the ESSA plan developed by the Wolf administration addresses testing and other issues that have been thorns in educators' sides for years. And I'm particularly pleased that the Department of Education included so many educators in the process." - PSEA President Dolores McCracken