Education Week - January 17, 2018 - 23
States Slow in Adopting
ESSA's Testing Flexibility
children-known as Dreamers-a chance to stay
legally. Unless Congress acts, DACA will end in
March, and recipients could face deportation. Some
250,000 school-age children have become DACAeligible since President Barack Obama began the
program in 2012. And about 20,000 current DACA
recipients are working as teachers, the Migration
Policy Institute estimates. Trump has challenged
Congress to come up with a plan to protect
Dreamers, and some lawmakers are pushing to
get things done, but the prospects of a deal remain
shaky. (See related article, Page 1.)
What happens with implementation of the Every
Student Succeeds Act?
Every state has turned in a plan to implement
ESSA. As of late last month, 15 states and the
District of Columbia, all of which filed their plans
last spring, had been approved. The department is
currently in the process of reviewing the 34 plans
filed last fall. So far, DeVos has approved plans
even if states didn't make all of the changes the
Education Department asked for. Sen. Patty Murray,
D-Wash., an ESSA architect, has expressed big
concerns about this.
What's more, states and districts are waiting
to see if the department moves forward on a
pilot program in the law, dealing with weightedstudent funding formulas. Earlier this month, the
department gave states until April 2 to apply for
the law's Innovative Assessment Pilot, which allows
states to try out new types of tests in a handful of
How much will DeVos be able to roll back the
Education Department's footprint?
One of the Trump administration's top priorities is
getting rid of regulations, programs, and even personnel
that it describes as unnecessary or duplicative. At the
beginning of last year, Congress got the ball rolling
by getting rid of ESSA accountability regulations and
teacher-prep regulations through the Congressional
Review Act. So far, DeVos has scrapped hundreds
of pieces of guidance and rules that she said were
outdated or redundant.
There could be some bigger regulatory changes
on the horizon. DeVos and company may delay
implementation of an Obama-era rule that would
require states to take a stricter approach to identifying
whether their districts have wide racial or ethnic
disparities in special education. She may get rid of
Obama-era guidance calling on districts to ensure that
discipline policies don't have a disproportionate impact
on students from certain racial and ethnic groups.
DeVos has also offered buyouts to shrink the
How will education play in the midterm elections?
The party that doesn't hold the White House
typically does well in midterm congressional elections,
so Democrats have a shot at retaking the House of
Representatives. And there's a slim chance they could
pick up seats in the Senate. So will Democrats use K-12
issues-especially opposition to DeVos-to get voters
to the polls? It's a good bet. The party started invoking
DeVos' name in fundraising emails even before she was
officially sworn in as secretary.
President George W. Bush
* Signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law on Jan. 8, 2002. The law, which was the first update
of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in eight years, was the biggest expansion of the
federal role in K-12 in history.
* NCLB called for states to test their students annually in grades 3-8 and once in high school.
Schools that did not make "adequate yearly progress" under the law were subject to increasingly
severe penalties. Students in schools that did not make AYP were given the opportunity to transfer
to a better-performing school or given access to free tutoring. And teachers had to be "highly
qualified," meaning they had to have a bachelor's degree, state certification, and demonstrate
President Bill Clinton
* By the end of Clinton's first year, the House of Representatives had passed his "Goals 2000"
legislation, which authorized $400 million a year to provide grants to states and districts that
adopted education redesign plans that focused on high standards and student supports. The law
made it through both chambers of Congress early in spring 1994, Clinton's second year in office.
* Goals 2000 laid the groundwork for the 1994 reauthorization of the ESEA, the Improving America's
Schools Act. The law required states to develop school improvement plans, assess students in
certain grade spans, and adopt academic standards.
President George H.W. Bush
* Convened a summit in Charlottesville, Va., in fall 1989, attended by almost all the nation's
governors. The summit, only the third such gathering in American history, culminated in a promise
to set educational goals. Bush announced the goals in his State of the Union Address early in
* The goals included a pledge to ensure that every child would leave grades 4, 8, and 12 having
"demonstrated competency" in English, math, science, geography, and history.
* The goals helped accelerate the standards-based reform movement, already underway in many
states. And the summit helped lay the groundwork for the Common Core State Standards and
NCLB, experts say.
By Alyson Klein
The Every Student Succeeds Act,
which passed more than two years
ago, sought to assuage critics of standardized testing by giving districts
and states new flexibility with their
But two years after the law passed,
it looks like very few states will end up
allowing districts to give a nationally
recognized college entrance exam in
place of the state assessment for high
And, at least initially, there likely
won't be many states raising their
hands to participate in ESSA's innovative assessment pilot, which allows up
to seven states or consortia of states to
try out new kinds of tests in a handful
of districts before taking them statewide. The Education Department announced this month that applications
for the pilot are due April 2.
States that don't participate in this
first group may be able to jump in
down the line. ESSA allows the department to open up the innovativetesting option to all states three years
after the initial group of seven has
begun its work.
The pilot was inspired by work on
performance assessment already underway in New Hampshire, thanks to
a waiver from the previous version of
the law, the No Child Left Behind Act.
At least three other states-Georgia,
Hawaii, and New York-expressed
formal interest in the pilot in the
ESSA plans they submitted to the
Education Department. And Colorado
passed a law calling on its state education agency to seek the flexibility.
But Lillian Pace, the senior director
of national policy at KnowledgeWorks,
a nonprofit group that supports state
and federal policymakers interested
in personalized-learning systems,
isn't necessarily expecting a flood of
applications. In order to participate
in the pilot, states have to be ready
to try a new form of testing, such as
performance-based assessments, in at
least a few districts.
The state must also have a plan for
comparing the results of these tests to
the traditional state exam in making
sure that English-language learners
and students in special education are
given appropriate accommodations,
and for putting the tests in place in
all districts down the line.
"I wouldn't expect to see seven
strong applications for states that
are ready to go by April," Pace said.
But the release of the application will
provide a starting point for "a really
robust and serious conversation" that
could pave the way for more states to
participate down the line.
President Ronald Reagan
One Less Test
* Signed an ESEA reauthorization that consolidated smaller education programs into a block grant.
The list included programs aimed at improving students' basic skills, state leadership, emergency
school aid, community schools, alcohol- and drug-abuse prevention, science-teacher training,
and career education, according to the CQ Almanac. The legislation also reduced regulatory
and paperwork requirements for states and districts. This reauthorization ushered in a period of
depressed spending under the federal law.
When ESSA was passed back in
2015, some superintendents were intrigued by the option to offer a college
entrance exam in lieu of the state test
for high school accountability. They
argued it would mean one less test
for many 11th graders, who would
already be preparing for the SAT or
ACT, the two most commonly used
college entrance exams. Assessment
experts, on the other hand, worried
* Reagan tried to consolidate Title I for disadvantaged students and special education funding into
the block grant as well, but Congress nixed that proposal. He also tried to eliminate the Education
Department but wasn't successful.
Librarian Holly Peele contributed to this report.
the change would make student progress a lot harder to track.
Now, it appears that only two
states-North Dakota and Oklahoma-have immediate plans to offer
their districts a choice of tests. Policymakers in at least two other states-
Georgia and Florida-are thinking
through the issue. Arizona and Oregon could also be in the mix.
Offering a choice of tests can be a
tall order for state education officials,
said Julie Woods, a senior policy analyst at the Education Commission of
the States. They have to figure out
how to pay for the college entrance
exams and find a way to compare student scores on the state test to scores
on the SAT, ACT, or another test.
That's "potentially a lot more work
than states are currently doing,"
What's more, the prospect of allowing districts to pick among multiple
tests-and potentially change them
from year-to-year-drives assessment
experts "batty," said Scott Marion, the
executive director of the Center for Assessment, which works with states to
design and implement tests.
"You're just lost, you're just grasping
at straws for any kind of comparability" among school districts that take
different tests, he said.
Potential State Takers
But some states think the potential
upside outweighs any concerns.
North Dakota, for instance, wants to
offer its districts the chance to take the
ACT instead of the state exam, said
Kay Mayer, a spokeswoman for the
state education department. The state
will need approval from the department for technical reasons, dealing
with the federal peer review process.
And Oklahoma plans to give districts
a choice between the ACT and the SAT.
Georgia finds the option enticing, too.
In fact, the state legislature passed a
bill last year calling on the state board
of education to examine this and other
testing flexibility offered under ESSA.
The state has started on that work
now, said Allison Timberlake, the interim deputy superintendent for assessment and accountability.
"It's a slow methodical process to
make sure that everything is in place
and well aligned," Timberlake said.
State lawmakers in Florida have also
expressed interest in offering their
districts a choice of the ACT, SAT, or
state exam. So far, though, bills that
would make this possible have died in
the legislature. Lawmakers required
the state to study the issue, and a report released last week concluded that
it wasn't a good idea.
Oregon's ESSA plan, which has
gotten the green light from the U.S.
Department of Education, includes a
line saying the state will "pursue flexibility under ESSA to allow districts
to use a nationally recognized assessment in place of the state exam."
And Arizona has also passed a law
that would give its districts a choice
of tests, not just in high school, but
in K-8 schools, too. Arizona didn't include any mention of its testing law
in its ESSA plan, which has already
been approved by the department.
EDUCATION WEEK | January 17, 2018 | www.edweek.org | 23
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 17, 2018
Education Week - January 17, 2018
QUALITY COUNTS 2018: Grading the States
Cheating Scandal in Atlanta Casts Long Shadow
Unknown Fate for DACA Leaves Dreamers on Edge
News in Brief
Ed. Dept. Finds Texas Suppressed Spec. Ed. Enrollment
How Classroom Location Matters In Teacher Collaboration
How Much Reform Is Too Much? Teachers Weigh In
Students Thrive When They See Purpose In Their Learning
K-12 Districts Advised on Rights in Post-‘Net Neutrality’ Era
What’s on the Runway for Trump, Congress on Education?
Year One: K-12 Presidential Scorecards
States Slow in Adopting ESSA’s Testing Flexibility
At Halfway Mark, Congress Faces Pile of Education Issues
K-12 Key Topic for State Legislators
Patrick J. Wolf: Four Sound Practices for Public Debate
DATA: Which 2018 RHSU Edu-Scholars have the greatest social-media influence?
Pedro A. Noguera: How to Decide When Your Voice Is Necessary
DATA: Where are the Edu-Scholars?
Robert Kelchen: Some Cautions for Junior Scholars (and Their Institutions)
DATA: Percentage of 2018 RHSU Edu-Scholars with Twitter accounts
Diana Hess: Scholars, Don’t Overstep Your Expertise
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Frederick M. Hess: When Public Scholarship Gives Way to Bombast and Bluster
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - Unknown Fate for DACA Leaves Dreamers on Edge
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - 2
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - 3
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - News in Brief
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - 5
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - Ed. Dept. Finds Texas Suppressed Spec. Ed. Enrollment
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - How Classroom Location Matters In Teacher Collaboration
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - How Much Reform Is Too Much? Teachers Weigh In
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - Students Thrive When They See Purpose In Their Learning
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - K-12 Districts Advised on Rights in Post-‘Net Neutrality’ Era
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - 11
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - 12
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - 13
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - 14
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - 15
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - 16
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - 17
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - 18
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - 19
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - 20
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - 21
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - Year One: K-12 Presidential Scorecards
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - States Slow in Adopting ESSA’s Testing Flexibility
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - K-12 Key Topic for State Legislators
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - DATA: Which 2018 RHSU Edu-Scholars have the greatest social-media influence?
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - DATA: Percentage of 2018 RHSU Edu-Scholars with Twitter accounts
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - Diana Hess: Scholars, Don’t Overstep Your Expertise
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - Letters
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - 30
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - 31
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - Frederick M. Hess: When Public Scholarship Gives Way to Bombast and Bluster
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - CW1
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - CW2
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - CW3
Education Week - January 17, 2018 - CW4