A conversation on Facebook prompted this post. Some of my fellow 2016 State Teachers of the Year have been analyzing articles and blogposts about proposed ESSA regulations, in preparation for ECS' National Forum on Education Policy. ESSA (the Every Student Succeeds Act) was passed by Congress and signed by Obama at the end of 2015. It was the first bill passed to update and amend No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which was authorized in 2002. Why am I trying to find the words to write about any of these acronyms? This Spring, I was selected to be a member of the ESSA Negotiated Rulemaking Committee that collectively wrote proposed regulations for Title I, Part A on Assessments (more on that later).
I've been timid when it comes to writing about my experience and thoughts on ESSA. I think this has been in part because I wanted to focus on my students after having left the classroom to attend meetings in DC, but also in part because of the reality that "those who speak up need to prepare to be spoken about," as stated eloquently by 2015 National Teacher of the Year, Shanna Peoples. In light of this, I am going to start sharing some of my interpretations and critiques of public responses to the U.S. Department of Education's proposed regulations for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, as Amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act: Accountability and State Plans.
I'm doing this because of the vast range of information (and misconceptions) I've seen on the internet, and my concern about how easy it is for people to make claims about sections of the regulations. The regulations are long, with references to statute (past and current), as well as prior regulations and proposed updates… and, in addition, the Department's explanation of their thinking and information about their requests for feedback. With all of this for each proposed section, it's no wonder that it's easy at times to believe what is being written.
Hopefully that's as helpful to you as it was for me. Stating with clear definitions is important because the majority of debates about ESSA are either about the proposed regulations (open for public comment through August 1, 2016) and/or how SEAs and LEAs will implement ESSA. Which brings us to the nexus of policy and practice - where educators try to figure out the most influential levers for meaningful changes in our practice and how to advocate for the best interest of our students.
I hope you'll read my next post which examines proposed regulatory language for Section 200.15: Participation in Assessment and Annual Measurement of Achievement.