Inside the Beltway

What’s going on in Washington?

Comments were due this week in response to the Request for Information from the U.S. Department of Education on implementing Title I of the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This is one of the first steps in the regulatory process for ESSA, which takes effect on August 1, 2016. NASSP submitted comments along with the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), which can be viewed online. All comments are public record, so you can also view comments submitted by other organizations and individuals as well.

Why should principals care?

ESSA gives much less authority to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) than they previously held under No Child Left Behind, but as with all laws, language can be unclear, and how exactly the law will be carried out by an agency is not specified. ED will need to write rules and regulations based on the new law. The Request for Information gives stakeholders a chance to weigh in on those decisions.

In the Press

Why the New Education Law Is a Game-Changer, Governing

This piece from Governing, authored by former executive branch officials under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, focuses on how the new education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), will not only give additional responsibilities to states but will also shift more than $2 billion of federal funds annually toward building evidence on what works in education. ESSA creates an innovation fund to test, validate, replicate, and scale evidence-based solutions— something policy rarely does, and something that could be a true game-changer for public education in America.

Rethink Teacher-Evaluation Systems if They’re Not Working, John King Says, Education Week

A hallmark of the Obama administration’s education policies has become teacher evaluations linked to student test scores, something encouraged in the states by Race to the Top money and No Child Left Behind waivers. Teacher evaluations have become controversial and are opposed by teacher unions, who say student test scores cannot adequately measure a teacher’s impact on student learning. Acting Secretary John King now says that many of these systems were developed without teacher input, and that evaluation systems that are not working should be changed. ESSA gives states the power to do that without ED approval.

Are Textbooks Behind Teachers’ Steep Learning Curve in the Classroom? Brookings Institution

A recent boom in research on what makes teachers effective has revealed important knowledge, including that first-year teachers are decidedly less effective than second-year teachers. This article looks at highlights of the National Council on Teacher Quality’s recent study, Learning about Learning, which examines teacher education textbooks for evidence of research-based strategies. The study found few research-based strategies, mentioned or taught, which might help explain some of the research findings on first-year teacher effectiveness.

Lessons from State Performance on NAEP, Real Clear Education

Examining the state-by-state scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reveals the impact of certain state-based education policies. In particular, the article points out Iowa, long considered to have one of the best public school systems in the country, has seen only small gains in the NAEP scores of low-income students. The article attributes this to Iowa’s lack of commitment to standards-based reform, and uses both Tennessee and Massachusetts, states that have embraced this type of reform, as counterpoints.

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