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

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

Voice: September 2017

No Child Left Behind is out. The Every Student Succeeds Act is coming in.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has put forth a plan to begin implementation of the new federal education law in the 2017-18 school year. It proposes the use of 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 proposes 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.

“This plan takes an important step in the right direction for our students and our members,” said PSEA Vice President Rich Askey. “Moving to multiple measures of school success shifts the focus to students and uses standardized tests in a more balanced way. For years, PSEA has been advocating for these changes, and we’re very happy that they are part of the plan.”

The plan has been more than a year in the making and was informed by state workgroups that included 15 PSEA members and staff, along with a diverse cross section of stakeholders.

“Gov. Wolf and his administration did the right thing by including experts in this process to develop accountability and support systems that will strengthen our schools, support our teachers and support professionals, and serve our students and communities,” Askey said.

In public comments, PSEA voiced support for many aspects of the Wolf administration’s ESSA plan, including its emphasis on supporting schools rather than punishing them, its use of multiple measures to track school quality, and its inclusion of research-based programs to support educators and schools.

PSEA also suggested areas of improvement, including focusing stronger and immediate support on low-performing schools, providing more clarity in the methods used to identify those schools, and creating greater transparency in gathering and communicating school data.

The Wolf administration will submit a final plan to the U.S. Department of Education on Sept. 18.

At right is an overview of the key components of Pennsylvania’s proposed ESSA plan.