My Views about ESSA: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Diane Ravitch's blog

It was difficult for Congress to agree on a replacement for the failed No Child Left Behind. NCLB was supposed to be reauthorized in 2007, but it took eight long years to finally reach a bipartisan agreement.

The good part about the Every Child Succeeds Act is that it spells the end of federal punishment for schools, principals, and teachers whose students have low test scores, and it restricts the ability of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to dictate how schools should reform. There is no more AYP (adequate yearly progress); there is no more deadline of 2014 by which time every student everywhere will be proficient, which was always a hoax that no one believed in.

The bad part about ESSA is that it preserves the mindset of NCLB, a mindset that says that standards, testing and accountability are the keys to student success. They are not. NCLB…

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Here Are All the Links on ESSA Series: Ask Your Own Questions

Diane Ravitch's blog

The series about the new Every Student Succeeds Act is concluded. I want to thank Senator Lamar Alexander and his staff, especially David P. Cleary, chief of staff, for responding to my questions. I know that readers have additional questions or want clarifications of some of the statements. The new law is the result of negotiations between the two parties. Questions will inevitably arise as the new law is implemented. Meanwhile, feel free to submit your questions and you can be sure that Senator Alexander’s staff will answer them as best they can. Let me add that there are things in this law I like, and things I don’t like. I will spell those out in a separate post.

Here are the links to each of the posts written by Senator Lamar Alexander’s staff.

1. ESSA and Testing

2. ESSA and Teacher Evaluation

3. ESSA and the Bottom 5% of…

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EXCLUSIVE: Common Core and ESSA: Part 9

Diane Ravitch's blog

This is the ninth and final installment in a series of exchanges about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). I wrote the questions, and David P. Cleary, chief of staff to Senator Lamar Alexander, wrote the answers.

I may have overlooked important issues. David has agreed to write a follow-up post if there are any additional questions that need explaining. I thank David Cleary, other members of the staff, and especially Senator Alexander for taking the time to explain the ramifications of the new law.

How does ESSA affect Common Core? Some says ESSA “locks in” CCSS. True or false.

Short answer: No. This one is absolutely the biggest whopper we’ve heard.

Some advocates have tried to pretend that there were no mandates to adopt Common Core, but in the same breath point with glee to how many states adopted Common Core in order to secure a waiver from the…

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EXCLUSIVE: The Federal Role and ESSA: Part 8

Diane Ravitch's blog

This is the eighth in a series of exchanges about the new federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act. I asked the questions, and David P. Cleary, chief if staff to Senator Lamar Alexander, answered them.

What is the role of the federal Department of Education and the Secretary in the new ESSA?

Short answer:

The role of the department under the new ESSA will be significantly scaled back from the role it has had under NCLB and the waivers. The Department still has a role in ensuring compliance with the law and monitoring state implementation of state plans, but the level of authority the Department has given itself over the past 14 years is significantly scaled back. But, it is important to remember that we are in a period of transition in moving to the new law, meaning the Department will have some authority from the old law and…

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EXCLUSIVE: ESSA and Charter Schools: Part 7

Diane Ravitch's blog

This is the seventh in a series of exchanges about the new federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act. I asked the questions, and David P. Cleary, chief of staff to Senator Lamar Alexander, answered them.

Does the law impose any requirements on charter schools regarding funding, selection of students, financial transparency, or accountability?

Short Answer:

Sen. Alexander has been a long-time advocate of charter schools. In his last act as Secretary of Education in 1993, he wrote a letter to all of the nation’s superintendents encouraging them to look at the idea of creating charter schools like those started in Minnesota.

The Every Student Succeeds Act makes several updates to the federal public charter school program to modernize the program and ensure public charter schools are held to the same standards as other public schools. The charter school program provides federal grants to support the creation of new charter…

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EXCLUSIVE: How Does ESSA Affect Teacher Education?

Diane Ravitch's blog

This is the sixth in a series of exchanges about the new Every Student Succeeds Act. I asked the questions, and David P. Cleary, chief of staff to Senator Lamar Alexander, responded with answers.

How will teacher education be affected by ESSA? Does the law enable non-traditional institutions to award degrees to teachers, i.e., “graduate” schools that have no faculty with advanced degrees, like Match and Relay? Does it encourage alternative routes like Teach for America? What happened to the idea that all students should have “highly qualified teachers”?

Highly Qualified Teachers.

The new law removes the requirement that all teachers of core academic subjects be “highly qualified” as defined under No Child Left Behind. Instead, states will be responsible for ensuring that teachers meet applicable state teacher licensure and certification requirements. The requirements to be a teacher in a state will be up to that state, with no additional…

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EXCLUSIVE: ESSA and Special Education: Part 5

Diane Ravitch's blog

This is the fifth installment in a series of exchanges about the Every Student Succeeds Act. I asked the questions, and David P. Cleary, chief of staff to Senator Lamar Alexander, answered them.

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My question:

How does the law affect the testing of students with disabilities? I have heard that there is a limit of 1% of students who may be given alternative assessments due to their disabilities, but far more than 1% of students have IEPs. What does the law say?

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The response:

The law allows students with the most significant cognitive disabilities to take alternate assessments aligned with alternate academic achievement standards.

The new law includes a cap on the total number of students that can take an alternate assessment aligned with alternate achievement standards. The cap is set at one percent of all students in the state, which equates to roughly 10 percent of students…

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