Education Week - January 6, 2016 - (Page 10)

INSIDE ESSA The New Federal K-12 Law New Law, Fresh Challenges States, Districts Will Share More Power Under ESSA By Alyson Klein S The Every Student Succeeds Act was signed by President Barack Obama on Dec. 10. The latest revision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, it aims to scale back the hands-on federal role in K-12 education and enhance the authority of states and districts. tate and school district officials who have complained for years that an inflexible, overprescriptive federal role in public education is at the heart of the No Child Left Behind Act seem to have finally gotten their wish: a replacement law that scales back Washington's K-12 footprint for the first time in more than a quarter-century. Now, big questions loom about just where states and districts will take the leeway granted to them under the newly minted Every Student Succeeds Act-and just how their decisions will affect the perennially foundering schools and traditionally overlooked groups of students and schools the NCLB law was designed to help. It's equally unclear just how much power the U.S. Department of Education will have when the law, the latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The new law-already widely known by the acronym ESSA-slims down the U.S. Department of Education, consolidating nearly 50 programs, including elementary and secondary counseling, into a giant block grant. It also aims to crack down on the U.S. sec- Cover and photo at right by Evan Vucci/AP 10 | EDUCATION WEEK | January 6, 2016 | retary of education's authority when it comes to standards, assessments, school turnarounds, teacher evaluation, and other areas. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a key architect of ESSA, said he thinks the federal role will be "very different" from here on out. "What I believe is that when we take the handcuffs off, we'll unleash a whole flood of innovation and ingenuity classroom by classroom, state by state, that will benefit children," Alexander said in an interview. "We've got a law that will govern the federal role in K-12 education for 10 or 20 years." Bipartisan Consensus In signing ESSA on Dec. 10, 2015, President Barack Obama was on the same page-at least rhetorically. The NCLB law, launched under his predecessor, President George W. Bush, had good intentions, Obama said, but it "often forced schools and school districts into cookie-cutter reforms that didn't always produce the kinds of results that we wanted to see." The new law "creates real partnerships between the states, which will have new flexibility to tailor their improvement plans, and the federal government, which will have the oversight to make sure that the plans are sound." And Obama said ESSA, which goes into full effect with the start of the 2017-18 school year, will maintain the civil rights legacy of the underlying ESEA, which turned 50 last year. Setting the Direction The federal role in K-12 education has been steadily building in successive editions of the ESEA since the late 1980s. The newest version retains the federal requirement for annual testing in reading and mathematics in grades 3-8 and once in high school. But it calls for states to revamp their accountability systems-and they can significantly scale back the role those tests play in gauging school progress. Under ESSA, states and districts will still have to transform their lowest-performing schools, but they will be able to choose their own interventions, as long as the strategies have some evidence to back them up. They'll also have to flag schools where historically overlooked groups of students, such as English-language learners, members of racial minorities, and students in special education, aren't performing as well as their peers. And, for the first time, states must include at least one factor that gets at school quality or students' opportunity to learn-such as access to advanced course work or a nurturing school climate-when considering school performance. They can also opt to get rid of teacher eval-

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 6, 2016

Education Week - January 6, 2016
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Wash. Ruling Could Inspire Charter Opponents Elsewhere
As New SAT Looms, Anxious Students Ramp Up Testing
Digital Directions: U.S. Ed-Tech Plan Calls Attention to ‘Digital-Use Divide’
Standards for Principals’ Bosses Sharpen Focus on Role
Blogs of the Week
Inside ESSA
High Stakes in Union-Fee Case Before Supreme Court
New K-12 Law Adds to Buzz as State Legislatures Set to Convene
Ed. Dept. Budget Sees Slight Boost In FY 2016 Deal
Blogs of the Week
Amanda VanDerHeyden, Matthew Burns, Rachel Brown, Mark R. Shinn, Stevan Kukic, Kim Gibbons, Ggeorge Batsche, & W. David Tilly: RTI Works (When It Is Implemented Correctly)
Ron Wolk: To Change Education, Change the Message
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Paul Herdman: As Feds Step Back, The First State Steps Up

Education Week - January 6, 2016