The first deadline for states to submit plans for meeting ESSA standards and regulations is April 3, 2017. One-third of all states have submitted plans, and according to the law, are within the 30-day window for public comment.
ESSA was approved in 2015 by the Obama Administration; however, the current administration has stated that the overall plan will follow the same timelines. The law will go in to effect at the onset of the 2017-2018 school year. The second submission deadline will be September 18, 2017.
Williams and Pace both believe ESSA is a “historic opportunity” for schools to “think differently” about K-12 education with implications for accountability, assessment, school improvement, and teacher preparation and development, in general. According to Williams, we are now shifting from the “labeling / grading / punishing” mentality of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to positive growth for schools and students under ESSA. This shift creates a world of possibilities for personalized learning, competency-based education, and early college opportunities for students.
Four primary areas of ESSA have been used by KnowledgeWorks to assess and interpret the states’ plans:
Accountability is interpreted as what ‘College and Career Ready’ will look like and sound like within ESSA. States have been encouraged to articulate a school accountability plan that is a balance of multiple measures (e.g. . student proficiency, graduation rates, English Language proficiency, school quality). States are also expected to view accountability with a focus toward Continuous Improvement.
Continuous School Improvement is interpreted to examine which state plans are being used to support all schools.
Exemplary plans in this area would support all schools while providing personalized supports to help struggling schools make long-term improvements in student achievement.
The session presenters also stated that they are encouraged by the amount of flexibility in this arena, but there may be too much flexibility. Each state plan needs to be carefully examined as to how any evidence-based turnaround model may be used by individual school districts to comply with state plans.
Excellent Educators is interpreted to be the processes that will be used for pre-service teacher preparation and inservice teacher professional development that will lead to meaningful learning opportunities for teachers (and students). KnowledgeWorks is primarily concerned in preparing excellent teachers for success in personalized learning.
Under ESSA, the NCLB designation of a ‘Highly Qualified Teacher’ has been eliminated. This creates multiple opportunities for higher education and state boards of education to examine and re-think teacher certification and licensure programs related to new teaching roles.
There is also a new focus on teacher equity – placing all of the best teachers in the highest performing schools will not translate to meaningful learning for all students.
Support for All Students means viable ways to increase access to rigorous pathways for all students. For plans to be considered “exemplary” by KnowledgeWorks, the plans should support funding opportunities to expand personalized learning. Some examples could include the following:
Using a 3% reservation in a states’ Title I funds
Using a Title IV block grant
21st Century Community Learning Centers – using high quality learning experiences in the community for class credit
Building on the existing relationships of Promise Neighborhoods and Full Service Community Schools
Exemplary ESSA State Plan for Support for All Students: Tennessee The current Tennessee ESSA plan proposes the creation of a pilot program for districts to implement competency education. This pilot articulates a three-tiered approach to Competency-Based Learning (CBL). This includes developing of teacher and administrator understanding of CBL, providing support for strong implementation of CBL, and using proof points and lessons learned in a feedback loop to strengthen and scale-up the implementation of CBL. Read the complete submitted ESSA plan for Tennessee on the Tennessee Department of Education website.
For more information about how states are incorporating personalized learning into their ESSA state plans, to see what is happening in your state or for a point of reference as you work on your own state plan, view this interactive map from KnowledgeWorks.