Tuesday, September 27, 2016

ESSA update at the Board of Ed

Sagan: several board members have asked "what is it we need to do?" on ESSA
Chester: presentation on process and the Board's role in that process
Chester with some history on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) getting periodically reauthorized, from its start under LBJ

Chester: NCLB focus on all students
seen by some as very prescriptive on how states went about things, as too punitive
MA waiver filed 2012
5 level system
ESSA "provides a rebalancing of federal authority with" state autonomy
Congress kept "some very important safeguards"
requirements "on testing" (well, kinda: assessment. It doesn't have to be testing) and reporting
file plan that ensures that no group of students are being taught by teachers that are unqualified, or ineffective
"the way it gets implemented under the next administration...will have a lot of say in how the federal government holds states' feet to the fire"
plan "becomes in essence a contract" that allows flow of federal funds to our state and our districts "our lowest performing, poorest districts"
virtually all meetings start with "how can we change our accountability system" but was at meeting last week on how it can be employed for improving instruction for all students
concern that federal funds support state agencies "that are effectively on autopilot"
"want to always not to lose sight of the bigger picture, what's possible here"
"that won't be easy, the funds and the use are pretty institutionalized"

Johnston: "will be a series of conversations that we intend to have with the Board"
review implementation outline, stakeholder outreach, design principles
discuss possible indicators, schedule
Curtin: very much about moving forward "what's possible in the future"
"just what we needed: a new acronym for our every day use"
important to know what the law actually requires, so it informs discussion moving forward
waiver expired August 1; in transition year
NCLB's testing requirements have not gone away; 95% participation required still
"very much aligned with our conversation prior to the break"
system requires "an annual meaningful differentiation" for all public schools
(currently levels; could be something else; but need one)
"ambitious state-designed long-term goals" and measures of progress, including gaps with subgroups
requires academic indicator in math, ELA, science
measure of student growth in (at least) elementary and middle school required
graduation rates required to be included
ELL students proficiency required; previously has been done through Title III; now be part of larger accountability system
at least one measure "of school quality or student success"
"sometimes has been called a "non-academic indicator" and that's not the case"
Sagan "it's an 'and' statement"
Peyser: gap closing between subgroups? Yes
Curtin: with respect to weighting, "the law has laid out guidance to do so"
substantial weight to achievement, progress, ELL proficiency, and graduation rate
those must have "much greater weight" in differentiation process than any measures of school quality or student success
Moore: individually or together?
Curtin: together, as it's worded in the law
lowest 5% of schools + high school with graduation rate below 67% and those with low performing subgroups all need to be identified (with last needing 'targeted support')
Sagan: have they defined subgroups?
Curtin: yes, racial and ethnic subgroups, ELL, special ed, poverty
graduation rate in cohort rate model (in response to Sagan's question)
there will be forthcoming regulations on this
21,000 comments in response to proposed regulations
15-16: ESEA flexibility waiver
16-17: transition year
17-18: new ESSA plan in effect
Sagan: do we think this is the timeline that will happen? responding to comments, change in administration
"I know we have to take it seriously on time, but I can't imagine..."
Curtin: need to be ready in March 2017 to get approval
April-July 2016: listening tour
July-October 2016: modeling phase (thinking about incorporation what some the ideas might look like)
October-December 2016: gain feedback again "this is where we think we might like to go on accountability; what are your thoughts?"
December-March 2017: revising for final plan
Curtin: one of the requirements is that we put up our plan for public comment
"we plan on having a series of open meetings...so that the public can come and hear what we want to do...and be able to offer their thoughts on our plan"
Stewart: my understanding is that we don't have to submit by March
"it's good to think that there could be a little more stakeholder engagement...I like the idea of a road show and face-to-face"
Curtin: multiple windows for submitting a plan
submission in March and July: concern with July in letting schools know what the outline will be as they enter new school year
Chester: want to provide school profiles "that have a lot more information" than is in accountability format
potential to submit in March what we know, submit placeholders for what we're still figuring out
Sagan: "this is one of those big decisions that we want to make one time and live with for awhile...broad" discussion across the state
"people feel included in a broad way"
Moore: "are students ever considered in it?"
"how can you consider a school's success outside of test scores?"
Sagan offers to help get people in front of you
"we are the leader nationwide, and we ought to be out front and driving the discussion nationally"
McKenna: has anyone suggested that the timeline of this in the real world makes no sense at all?
no way that new administration will have new education leadership in place by March
"unfair to us, unfair to students, unfair to everyone"
"seems like it's a process that's going to involve a lot of people doing a lot of work..." (and not for the right time)
Curtin: "I very much agree with you."
Noyce: "I think we should approach this..what we think should be done as a state"
report cards for districts, providing information
"figuring out which of those potential indicators" are measurable, we can provide in a consistent way
"is something that we can do"
"message to schools is, we're going to be providing this information about you to you and to your communities"

Moriarity: missing "reading independently" by third grade isn't spoken to
high school and their needs come up

Chester: suggest "we're probably thought sufficiently on process" move on to guiding principles
Curtin: want system to focus on closing proficiency gaps
measurable should be actionable at the school and district level
"if we're going to hold schools and districts accountable for it, they should be able to do something about it"
clear signal to highest and lowest performing schools
measures should be supported by research showing evidence of improving student outcomes
how does it align with DESE goals and mission?
align with internal and external stakeholders' values?
validly and reliably measure for all schools and groups?
actionable at schools and district level?
what should be included in accountability v. school report card?

list of possible indicators "have by no means eliminated any of these"
universe we heard from in the field
Core indicators (definitely will include):

  • ELA, math, science, participation and achievement
  • ELA and math grwoth 
  • 4 yr/5 yr graduation rate
  • annual dropout rate
  • English language proficiency results

exploring deeply ("though we haven't ruled anything out"):
  • chronic absenteeism
  • climate and culture (student survey)
  • high school: 9th grade course passing
  • annual course taking
  • access to arts
  • access to aspirational curriculum
  • advanced coursework
I would question the extent to which the last few are truly "actionable" at the district and school level, as we'd need to talk resources. Worth a thought
Fryer: question on causation and correlation (but I can't hear him well)
wants to talk about "those particular two indicators" but I don't know which one because he wasn't speaking into the mic
Stewart: culture, climate
does that include teacher turnover and teaching environment?
it could
Doherty: strikes me "the word poverty is not mentioned at all in any of this"
"a lot of these indicators are focusing on the poverty gap"
Noyce: teacher absenteeism and turnover should be included
"we don't want to grade schools based on how many of their kids are poor"
need to have some focus on context "particularly in what the newspapers pick up"
Moore: school climate and culture: "do students want to be there?"
how much are people willing to take time out of their day to choose to be there?

more coming on this one

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