Education Week - January 7, 2016 - Quality Counts - (Page 7)
QUALITY COUNTS 2016 | www.edweek.org/go/qc16
President Barack Obama, flanked by the
Senate Health, Education, Labor and
Pensions Committee's chairman, Sen.
Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., left, and the
committee's ranking member, Sen. Patty
Murray, D-Wash., signs the Every Student
Succeeds Act, last month in Washington.
The latest version of the Elementary and
Secondary Education Act, ESSA scales
back the direct federal role in school
accountability enshrined in the law's
previous version, the No Child Left Behind
Act, and puts more control in the hands of
states and school districts.
The issue of public school accountability has been
bound up with the question of consequences if schools,
students, and educators fall short of the expectations set
for them. Among them:
Specialists: Some states send in support staff to help
low-achieving schools. Georgia's school effectiveness
specialist, for instance, works to improve adherence to
state curriculum frameworks, professional development,
and assessment practices.
Menu of Options: Many states now offer far-more tailored
options. Rhode Island's lowest-performing schools must
select at least nine strategies to improve from a list of
Retention: In some states,
students that do not score
above a certain threshold on
an exam can be retained in that
grade. For example, more than
half of states have a policy to
retain students in 3rd grade if
test scores show they aren't
reading on grade level.
Diploma Withholding: At the high school level, some
states require students to pass either a general exit exam
or a series of end-of-course exams aligned to specific
courses in order to receive a standard diploma. (States
differ in whether they offer alternative pathways to
graduation or other completion credentials in lieu of a
"These systems took a significant amount
of thinking, analysis, and work at the local
level," wrote Delisle, who served as the assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education under Obama. "It is easy
to be tempted to adopt another state's or
district's pilot; however, processes are not
necessarily transferable, and they need to
be analyzed in terms of the local schools'
needs and goals for their students."
What's more, there are almost certainly
going to be concerns about state capacity to
take the lead on setting goals and turning
around low-performing schools, said Paul
Manna, a professor of government at the
College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Va. He noted that some states have
trouble just testing all students each year.
It may take a while for the dust to settle and a new vision for accountability to
emerge, Henig said. But one blueprint for
the future may be the past, specifically, the
years just before the passage of the NCLB
law, which saw a real range of approaches
"Looking back to pre-NCLB, we see what
we could anticipate as a likely outcome in
the future, which is considerable variation in terms of how [states] use greater
authority and discretion. Some states
were leaders and innovators, some were
laggards," he said. "They vary in terms of
political dynamics, vary in terms of bureaucratic capacity, ... and in terms of what
they value." n
NCLB Era: The No Child
Left Behind Act-now
superseded by the federal
education law's latest
Every Student Succeeds
strategies for districts to
use to jump-start changes
in their schools needing improvement, increasing with
severity depending on the number of years the school
missed testing benchmarks. They included: the right of
students to transfer to a better-performing school; free
tutoring for students in schools needing improvement;
revamping the curriculum, staff replacement, and even
conversion of the school to a charter or turning it over to
private or state management.
School Ratings: Many states use systems for identifying
schools needing assistance, such as A-F grading systems.
Audits: Some states, like Rhode Island and Washington,
require school improvement for low-achieving schools
to go through an external audit or diagnostic process
before improvement strategies are selected. Washington's
audit process includes parent notification and requires
collective bargaining contracts to be reopened to align to
the improvement plan.
SIG Strategies: Prompted by the federal School
Improvement Grant program-on the way out as a
separate program under ESSA-some states now use
those options for intervening in schools. They include
closing the school; converting to a charter school or other
outside governance; replacing the principal and up to half
the staff; or "transforming" via performance evaluations,
extended learning time, and other strategies.
Receivership: A receiver is authorized to make major
governance changes in a low-performing school. Under
New York state's law, a district superintendent is given
receivership powers to, among other things, change
curriculum, extend the school day, convert the school to
a charter, and request contract changes. Eventually, the
state can also appoint an independent receiver.
Parent Trigger: Some states allow parents to force major
governance changes if more than half of a school's
parents sign a petition. California's
parent-trigger law applies to
low-performing schools; parents
can demand staff change-ups,
conversion to a charter,
or the use of a private
company to operate the
Remediation: Most states and districts require teachers
with low performance to be given professional-growth
plans to boost their performance.
Parent Notification: Under the NCLB law, parents received
letters if their child's teachers were not deemed "highly
qualified," a designation given to those that have a
bachelor's degree, are fully certified by the state, and have
demonstrated competency in the subject they teach.
Loss of Tenure: In some states, a tenured teacher may
be returned to probationary status if he or she receives
several poor performance evaluations.
Dismissal: Some states now specify that teacherperformance evaluations can contribute to a teacher's
dismissal for inefficiency, incompetency, or another similar
reason in state law.
Library Intern Rachel Edelstein provided research assistance.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 7, 2016 - Quality Counts
Education Week - Quality Counts - January 7, 2016
Tough Balancing Act on Accountability
Path to Accountability Taking Bold New Turns
Highlighting NCLB-Era Research
Student Achievement in the Era of Accountability
Quality Counts at 20
Moving Beyond Just Academics as a Way to Assess Effectiveness
At a Los Angeles School, Carving Safe Spaces to Share and Learn
States Collaborate in Pursuit of Fresh Accountability Ideas
In School Turnaround Efforts, Massachusetts Enlists Districts
Measuring Up: Latest Scorecard Puts States, Nation to the Test
Chance for Success
Sources & Notes
Education Week - January 7, 2016 - Quality Counts
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