Education Week journalists and guests provide practical takeaways how the Every Student Succeeds Act is playing out in states and districts.
Room 1: How ESSA’s New Leeway Affects School Improvement and Accountability
‣ Moderator: Alyson Klein, Assistant Editor, Education Week
‣ ESSA takes a carrot-and-stick approach to school accountability. States get big new leeway in how to fix their lowest-performing school. But they’re on a tight leash in identifying those schools and coming up with turnaround plans backed by evidence. Klein and her guests discuss how states are meeting those challenges, what looks promising, and the potholes so far.
Room 2: Creating Complete, Usable School Report Cards for Educators and the Public
‣ Moderator: Daarel Burnette II, Staff Writer, Education Week
‣ The nation’s main K-12 law creates powerful tools for seeing how schools spend their money and what they get for it. But that data’s only as good as how complete, accessible, and understandable it is. Burnette outlines the hurdles states and districts face in remaking their school report cards, and how that information can be used by parents, educators, and the public.
Room 3: Beyond Test Scores: ESSA and Alternative Yardsticks for School Quality
‣ Moderator: Evie Blad, Staff Writer, Education Week
‣ States are on a quest for different ways to gauge school quality and student success, things like school climate and social-emotional learning that don’t mirror the same old measuring sticks. But some say they haven’t been too creative in breaking with the status quo—in fact, most states have chosen simply to integrate chronic absenteeism into their accountability plans. Blad will lead a discussion of how ESSA’s mandate for an alternative indicator of school quality is playing out in practice.
Room 4: What ESSA Means for Vulnerable Subgroups of Students
‣ Moderator: Christina A. Samuels, Associate Editor, Education Week
‣ ESSA is supposed to shine a bright light on what states and schools are doing—or failing to do—in meeting the needs of vulnerable groups of students and assuring that they do better. Samuels digs into how well the law is living up to its promises on behalf of minorities, English-language learners, and students in special education.
Room 5: Tapping ESSA Funding and Flexibility in an Uncertain Budget Landscape
‣ Moderator: Andrew Ujifusa, Assistant Editor, Education Week
‣ There’s money in ESSA for states eager to get creative in funding areas like the arts, health, safety, foreign languages, college-and-career ready coursework, and more. The law also offers states greater freedom in using federal funds in a variety of key areas. Ujifusa unpacks the potential behind ESSA’s Title IV grants, the “weighted student funding” pilot program, and more.
Room 6: ESSA and the Student Assessment Landscape
‣ Moderator: Sarah D. Sparks, Assistant Editor, Education Week
‣ The federal mandate for standardized testing has given educators heartburn for a long time. An ESSA pilot program aims to prime the pump on other ways to gauge student achievement, lets them use SAT and ACT college-entrance exams for accountability purposes, and makes other changes. But it also keeps testing requirements in place. Sparks leads a discussion looking at what ESSA means for alternatives to the usual testing regime, and how states are rising to the challenge.