Education Week - April 20, 2016 - (Page 14)

GOVERNMENT & POLITICS Testing Issues Generate Heat In Legislatures Bills aim to put on brakes With the 2016 state legislative season fast nearing its halfway point, testing and related issues continue to fuel legislative debate, as well as tensions between lawmakers and state education officials in a number of places. Legislators across the country had proposed nearly 600 bills as of last week that would affect the way state education departments administer and use standardized tests, up from just six such bills proposed five years ago, according to an analysis by Dan Thatcher, a researcher with the National Conference of State Legislatures. And in a particularly heated corner of the testing debate, more than 100 bills were proposed this year that would bolster the rights of parents to opt out of standardized tests or would force schools to notify parents of their rights to opt out, according to Thatcher's analysis. Among the measures that have made it across the finish line so far: * South Dakota passed a bill limiting testing time to just 2 percent of the school year. Gov. Dennis Daugaard, a Republican, signed the bill into law last month. * Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence-who once made testing central to his education reform agenda-in January signed a bill placing a moratorium on the state's use of test scores on teacher evaluations. * Arizona's GOP governor signed a bill that will allow districts to choose which tests they want to use next year. * Georgia lawmakers passed legislation, yet to be signed by that state's governor as of last week, David Goldman/AP-File By Daarel Burnette II to cut back on testing time and to limit the weight that test scores have on teacher evaluations. "I'm a firm believer in evaluations and assessing student achievement," said Lindsey Tippins, the chairman of Georgia's Senate education committee, who successfully pushed through that state's testing legislation. "But I think sometimes the testing we had mandated on us ... took up an undue amount of instructional time with very little return on investment." Midway Marker As of last week, 21 of the nation's 45 states holding legislative sessions this year were on track to finish by the end of the month. Testing, though, hasn't been the only K-12 issue taking up lawmakers' time. After widespread protests, South Dakota's governor vetoed a controversial bill that would have forced transgender students to use public school bathrooms that match their sex at birth. North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill into law that included similar measures for that state. Fiscal issues have dominated in a number of states, even as 41 states have poured more funding into their education budgets, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers. Pennsylvania's Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf ended a months-long budget stalemate with his GOPdominated legislature last month. The resolution provides school districts with just half the $400 mil- State Rep. James Beverly, right, a Democrat, talks with Rep. Ed Rynders, a Republican colleague, on the first day of the legislative session in January. Lawmakers this session passed legislation to limit time spent on standardized testing. PAGE 16 > Sparks Fly as Congress Reviews ESSA Rulemaking Process in his opening remarks. And Alexander said he'd use every Washington power available-including the apThe way the Every Student Suc- propriations process-to overrule the ceeds Act handles federal spending regulations if the department's proon students from low-income back- posal were to become final. He also grounds has become a major point said he'd encourage a lawsuit against of disagreement between some in the Education Department if it does Congress and the U.S. Department of Education-and could even lead to a budget showdown if the department pushes through ESSA regulations that fly in the face of influential lawmakers. In an oversight hearing here last week, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate U.S. SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER Health, Education, Labor, and Pen- R-Tenn. sions Committee, told U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. that he believed the Education Department's not reconsider its proposed language. proposal for regulating how federal But King denied that his departTitle I money must supplement, and ment-which made the proposal to a not supplant, state and local aid vio- panel of education advocates and officials that is negotiating ESSA regulalates the letter and spirit of ESSA. "Not only is what you're doing tions-was overstepping its authority. against the law, the way you're try- He told Alexander the agency is merely ing to do it is against another provi- trying to ensure that districts are using sion in the law," Alexander told King an appropriate approach to following By Andrew Ujifusa federal requirements for accessing federal funds. And in a meeting with reporters the day after the hearing, he said supplement-not-supplant is crucial to upholding the civil rights component of federal education law. "You can have a school with much lower percentages of poverty actually The supplement-not-supplant requirement aims to make sure that federal money earmarked for students from low-income backgrounds doesn't backfill spending that state and local funding should take care of. A separate requirement in ESSA called comparability, which wasn't " Not only is what you're doing against the law, the way you're trying to do it is against another provision in the law." 14 | EDUCATION WEEK | April 20, 2016 | spending $1,000, $2,000, $3,000 more than a Title I school blocks away," King told reporters, speaking of the federal formula grant program that aids disadvantaged students. "That's clearly inconsistent with supplement-notsupplant. ... We've got to get to a place where supplement-not-supplant has real meaning." changed in the new law, requires comparable spending between schools with large shares of disadvantaged students (Title I schools) and non-Title I schools. The requirement leaves out, however, whether teachers in both types of schools are actually being paid comparable reallife salaries, as long as they are on the same salary schedule. Earlier this month, negotiators working to come up with rules under ESSA sharply disagreed over the Education Department's draft rules governing supplementnot-supplant. The proposal says districts can take various approaches in showing how federal funds are supplementing state and local aid, provided that per-pupil spending in Title I schools was at least equal to the average per-pupil spending levels in non-Title I schools. Some negotiators expressed concern that the proposed rule would essentially mandate equal spending between the two types of schools, force teacher transfers to equalize spending on salaries between schools, and disrupt how districts allocate money and resources. Some argued that, in essence, the department was improperly trying to alter how ESSA deals with comparability through supplement-not-supplant rules. But civil rights advocates and othPAGE 16 >

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - April 20, 2016

Education Week - April 20, 2016
Charters Help Alums Stick With College
Cruz’s K-12 Agenda: Pro-School Choice, Anti-Common Core
National Count of Special Education Students Shows Uptick
New Online Tool Expands Access To School Climate Measurements
Table of Contents
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Caution Urged on Measuring Social-Emotional Skills
Studies Affirm Role of Emotions In Students’ Transitions
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Needs for ‘Resourcefulness,’ Equity Probed in Maker Ed.
Digital Divide Evolves in Fla. Schools, Study Finds
Ind. Scholarship Law Aims to Entice Top Students Into Teaching
Blogs of the Week
Testing Issues Generate Heat in Legislatures
Sparks Fly as Congress Reviews ESSA Rulemaking Process
MATT GANDAL: Are We Serious About the Goal Of College and Career Readiness for All?
ADAM LAATS & HARVEY SIEGEL: Teaching Evolution Is Not About Changing Beliefs
Q&A With StoryCorps’ Dave Isay
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
CHARLOTTE DANIELSON: It’s Time to Rethink Teacher Evaluation

Education Week - April 20, 2016