Ending the No Child Left Behind Catch-22 on English learner progress | EdSource

By Linda Darling-Hammond and Kenji Hakutz

California’s State Board of Education has an opportunity at its meeting this week in Sacramento to leave behind one of the most unfair and problematic features of No Child Left Behind (NCLB): the way it calculates English learners’ progress for purposes of accountability.

In doing so, however, the state will still have some other dilemmas to resolve with respect to how it will focus on, understand, and support the nearly 1.4 million public students classified as English learners.

Source: Ending the No Child Left Behind Catch-22 on English learner progress | EdSource

Duel between California and Obama administration over education continues | EdSource

by Louis Freedberg

The long-running battle between California and the federal government over the direction of state education policy continues, despite passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the new federal education law that delegates far more decision-making powers to local school districts than its much-maligned predecessor, the No Child Left Behind law.

In an unexpected response two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Education rejected California’s application for a federal waiver from having to administer the California Standards Tests in science, a multiple choice test based on outdated science standards adopted nearly two decades ago.

What makes the latest run-in with the administration so head-scratching is that it comes in the waning months of the Obama administration — over a relatively small piece of a student’s standardized testing regimen, at least compared to the Smarter Balanced math and English tests aligned with the Common Core standards.

Under the No Child Left Behind law, as well as the Every Student Succeeds Act replacing it, states are required to administer a science test each year to 5th- and 8th-graders, and once to high school students, and to report the scores on those tests.

Source: Duel between California and Obama administration over education continues | EdSource

State board poised to take new direction in school accountability | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

After months of drafting, revising and debating how best to measure and improve schools, the State Board of Education this week will adopt key elements of a new and distinct school accountability system.

The series of votes on Thursday will meet the Legislature’s Oct. 1 deadline and will mark 2½ years since the state board suspended its simpler predecessor, the Academic Performance Index. The board expects to change components of the system in coming years.

The new system shifts from a one-dimensional school rating under the API and the federal No Child Left Behind Act, based on test scores, toward a broader picture of what constitutes a quality education. It combines measures of underlying conditions, ­such as teacher qualifications and student suspension rates, and academic outcomes, including gauges of college and career readiness and standardized test scores.

Source: State board poised to take new direction in school accountability | EdSource

How to decipher the state’s proposed school and district report cards | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

Some states assign a single number or letter grade to rate a school. Some parents prefer that too. But California education leaders are proposing a very different system with a brightly colored report card as a way of explaining the achievement of every school and district. At its meeting Wednesday morning, the State Board of Education will look at the latest draft and discuss how to proceed with it. (You can watch the webcast, starting at 8:30 am, here.)

The board is facing a September deadline to adopt a new school and district improvement and accountability system, which will take effect in 2017-18. In place of the now suspended Academic Performance Index, which assigned a three-digit number to a school based on standardized test scores, the state will take a more comprehensive look at school life and academic progress. The change will parallel the shift in Washington from the No Child Left Behind Act to broader measures required under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Source: How to decipher the state’s proposed school and district report cards | EdSource

States, Feds Clash on Transition From NCLB to ESSA – Education Week

By Alyson Klein

State K-12 leaders busily trying to transition to the Every Student Succeeds Act are beginning to worry that the U.S. Department of Education is bent on trying to enforce the previous version of the law, the No Child Left Behind Act, Chris Minnich, the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers said in an interview Thursday.

The department, though, says that the two laws include many of the same requirements when it comes to test quality and equity. More on that below.

Minnich said states are trying to move toward testing and accountability systems that embrace the flexibilities of ESSA, which gives states much more leeway in both areas. They should be given some room to make those moves.

Source: States, Feds Clash on Transition From NCLB to ESSA – Politics K-12 – Education Week

Flexibility in Spending $233 Million for Students – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that the federal government has granted California flexibility on rules regarding Supplemental Educational Services (SES) for the 2016–17 school year, the last year those rules would have been in effect.

SES funds are used to provide tutoring or other academic instruction outside the regular school day for academically deficient students at certain Title I schools, which have high numbers and high percentages of low-income students. Programs are often away from school grounds and require travel.

The decision, contained in a letter from the U.S. Department of Education last week, allows California school districts to have the flexibility to make their own decisions about how to spend an estimated $233 million in SES and transportation funds for public school choice. The estimate is based on the amount of funding allocated by California districts this year: $222 million for SES and $11 million for transportation.

via Flexibility in Spending $233 Million for Students – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education).

Brown says it’s time to abandon API to judge schools’ performance | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

Members of the State Board of Education who favor replacing the three-digit Academic Performance Index with a “dashboard” of measurements highlighting school performance can count on the backing of Gov. Jerry Brown.

The K-12 summary (pages 22-23) of Brown’s proposed 2016-17 state budget, released last week, stated, “The state system should include a concise set of performance measures, rather than a single index.” Brown said the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act creates the opportunity to design a “more accurate picture of school performance and progress” than in the past.

But whether the state should or even can switch, under the new federal law, from a single index like the API to a more complex school improvement system will be a potentially contentious issue this year. Both approaches to accountability, the dashboard with multiple measures – such as test scores, high school graduation rates and an indicator of student readiness for college and jobs – and a single index compiled from a mix of factors, have strong advocates.

via Brown says it’s time to abandon API to judge schools’ performance | EdSource.

New education law puts more pressure on states to serve English learners | EdSource

By Delia Pompa

The Every Student Succeeds Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law last month, includes important policies that recognize the needs and diversity of English learners in an effort to close the ongoing achievement gap between them and other students. The bill, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also crucially maintains accountability for improving academic achievement of English learners – a hallmark of the last reauthorization, known as the No Child Left Behind Act.

Given the new law’s overall thrust of reducing federal authority in education, however, ensuring that the needs of English learners are met will be complicated by the fact that education agencies in 50 states and the District of Columbia will be interpreting the new mandates and perhaps implementing them differently.

The law has many strengths with respect to the nation’s approximately 5 million English learners in K-12 classrooms. The most far-reaching change requires that states include English language proficiency in their accountability frameworks under Title I, the provision that governs accountability for all low-income students.

via New education law puts more pressure on states to serve English learners | EdSource.

U.S. Senate poised to OK education law that replaces unpopular NCLB – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Has a new bipartisan day of comity dawned on Capitol Hill?

Probably not, but the U.S. Senate today is expected to reauthorize a federal education law that will, essentially, replace the deeply unpopular No Children Left Behind Act.

The House approved the bill Wednesday on an overwhelming 359-64 vote.

Once the Every Student Succeeds Act is approved in the Senate, it will be sent to President Obama for his signature. He is expected to sign it immediately.

Under the law, a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965, some things will change and some things will remain the same, local education leaders said Monday.

via U.S. Senate poised to OK education law that replaces unpopular NCLB.

House Set To Vote On Education Overhaul : NPR Ed

By Claudio Sanchez and Anya Kamenetz

Its almost a decade overdue, but the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote later today on a bill to replace the No Child Left Behind law.

Since NCLB was signed by President George W. Bush in early 2002, the federal government has played a major role in telling states how to run — and reform — their schools. But this new bill signals a sea change in the federal approach.

Annual tests in math and reading, the centerpiece of the old law, would remain in place. But the consequences of those test scores would no longer be dictated by the federal government. The new law, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, significantly shifts responsibility for improving schools back to the states.

via House Set To Vote On Education Overhaul : NPR Ed : NPR.

With the ESEA Conference Set to Kick Off, Is the End Near for NCLB? – Education Week

By Alyson Klein

After eight years and at least three serious attempts, Congress is finally moving forward on bipartisan, bicameral legislation to rewrite the almost-universally-despised No Child Left Behind Act, the current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The preliminary agreement—or “framework”—as the lead negotiators, Reps. John Kline, R-Minn., and Bobby Scott, D-Va., and Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., are calling it—is not the final word. Instead, its a jumping off point to set the stage for an official conference committee that begins Wednesday and could end this week.

via With the ESEA Conference Set to Kick Off, Is the End Near for NCLB? – Politics K-12 – Education Week.

Rewriting No Child Left Behind: Three Testing Issues to Watch – Education Week

By Alyson Klein

So, despite all of the political pushback to testing, we all know that annual tests are likely to stick around if Congress reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in coming months. (That wasnt always a slam dunk, but now it basically is.)

But that doesnt mean that testing isnt—or hasnt been—an issue behind the scenes, as congressional aides and the top lawmakers on education issues—Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Reps. John Kline, R-Minn., and Bobby Scott, D-Va, along with the Obama administration—work through key ESEA issues.

via Rewriting No Child Left Behind: Three Testing Issues to Watch – Politics K-12 – Education Week.

States May Get More Control Over Accountability. What Will They Do With It? – Education Week

By Alyson Klein

If Congress reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and gives states way more control over their own accountability systems, what will they do with it?

Pretty much the same thing they have been doing for the past four years, says a report released Tuesday by the Council of Chief State School Officers. More specifically: States will continue crafting and implementing accountability systems that build on nine basic principles outlined by state education leaders way back in 2011.

The report comes as staffers to all four major federal lawmakers on education—Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash. as well as Reps. John Kline, R-Minn. and Bobby Scott, D-Va., are burning the midnight oil on a compromise bill to reauthorize ESEA that seeks to restore serious authority over K-12 policies to states. More on where all that work stands here.

via States May Get More Control Over Accountability. What Will They Do With It? – Politics K-12 – Education Week.

How Long Do Waiver States Have to Get Teacher-Evaluation Systems in Place? – Education Week

By Alyson Klein

How long do states with No Child Left Behind Act waivers have to get teacher-evaluation systems up and running? Maybe longer than you think.

It’s no secret that teacher evaluation has been the toughest area of NCLB waiver implementation, from the get-go. And its also no secret that the Obama administration has slowly shifted from taking a super hard line in this area to being much more flexible. (Or lax, depending on your viewpoint.)

And now the administration has quietly allowed more than a dozen waiver states until the 2016-17 school year—Obamas very last year in office—to fully put in place teacher-evaluation systems that take student test scores into account.

via How Long Do Waiver States Have to Get Teacher-Evaluation Systems in Place? – Politics K-12 – Education Week.

State board again to pursue waiver from No Child Left Behind | EdSource

By John Fensterwald

The State Board of Education isn’t giving up on the hope that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan might grant California at least a partial waiver from the No Child Left Behind law that he has given to 43 other states.

At its meeting on Thursday, the state board will consider asking the U.S. Department of Education to give school districts more authority to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in Title I funding for poor children on after-school or summer programs in math and English language arts. Districts currently must use that money – equal to 15 percent of their Title I funding for low-income students – on private tutoring companies over which districts have no control. Districts also must notify parents in low-performing schools of their right to transfer their children to better schools and must allocate 5 percent of Title I dollars to bus children to the new schools. Under the draft waiver proposal, districts could put unused transportation money toward district-run after-school and summer programs. The state is planning to seek a four-year waiver, starting this fall.

via State board again to pursue waiver from No Child Left Behind | EdSource#.VUkJymctHGg#.VUkJymctHGg.

Definition of Core Subjects Expanded Under Senate Bipartisan NCLB Rewrite – Education Week

By Lauren Camera

The Senate draft of the rewritten No Child Left Behind Act adds writing, music, computer science, technology, and physical education to the list of disciplines it defines as “core academic subjects.”

That shift, buried deep in the 601-page Every Child Achieves Act, which was released yesterday, appears to be something of a response to the years-old debate about NCLBs curriculum-narrowing effect. It was greeted with jubilation at the National Association for Music Education, for instance, which issued a glowing press release noting the inclusion of music in the laws list of core subjects.

Here’s No Child Left Behinds list of core academic subjects. Youll find it on page 534 of the PDF, as part of Title IX.

via Definition of Core Subjects Expanded Under Senate Bipartisan NCLB Rewrite – Politics K-12 – Education Week.

Arne Duncan Gives Five States Early Bird Renewal of NCLB Waivers – Education Week

By Alyson Klein

The five states that applied early—under a special, fast-track process—for renewal of their No Child Left Behind Act waivers have all gotten approved by the U.S. Department of Education Tuesday.

That means that Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Mexico, and Virginia will get to keep their waivers for another four years, to through the 2018-19 school year, meaning beyond the end of the Obama administration. The fast track renewal was intended, as a reward of sorts, for states that remained on track with their original waiver plans in the tricky area of teacher evaluation.

(For you waiver geeks, Minnesota wasnt in the initial batch of states tapped for the very special, expedited, and longer waiver renewal, intended for states that stayed on track with teacher evaluations. And it was not happy about being excluded. But apparently Minnesota joined the group at some point. I’m sure there’s a great “inside the bureaucracy” story there.)

via Arne Duncan Gives Five States Early Bird Renewal of NCLB Waivers – Politics K-12 – Education Week.

How to fix No Child Left Behind | EdSource

By Diane Ravitch

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s commentary for EdSource last month, called “How Not to Fix No Child Left Behind,” consisted for the most part of mushy platitudes that must be measured against the realities of his actions over the past six years.

During that time, Duncan has aggregated an unprecedented power to tell states and districts how to operate. The administration’s Race to the Top program was not passed into law by Congress, yet it was funded with $5 billion awarded by Congress as part of the economic stimulus plan following the 2008 recession.

Duncan used that huge financial largesse to make himself the nation’s education czar. When states were most economically distressed, he dangled billions of dollars before them in a competition. They were not eligible to enter the competition unless they agreed to lift caps on opening more privately managed charter schools, to rely on test scores to a significant degree when evaluating teachers, to adopt “college-and-career-ready standards” (aka the Common Core standards, which had not even been completed in 2009 when the competition was announced) and to take dramatic action to “turn around” schools with low test scores (such as closing the school or firing all or most of the staff).

via How to fix No Child Left Behind | EdSource#.VQMHqWctHGg#.VQMHqWctHGg.

What Do Principals, Teachers Want in an NCLB Rewrite? – Education Week

By Alyson Klein

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., asked the edu-world to submit comments on draft legislation for rewriting the No Child Left Behind Act by Feb. 2. And unsurprisingly, the responses had poured in as of Tuesday’s deadline, although not all have been released publicly just yet.

So what do various groups want? Here’s a quick sample:

  • The American Federation of Teachers wants to keep annual assessments in the new version of the law, but only have the tests “count” for accountability purposes in certain grades. They also want parents to have an opt-out option. Plus, the union is really unhappy that the bill would freeze funding for Title I, the main program in the NCLB law for educating disadvantaged kids. And the union has said it wants Alexander to keep language in the original NCLB law outlining paraprofessional qualifications. More from Stephen Sawchuk of Teacher Beat fame.

via What Do Principals, Teachers Want in an NCLB Rewrite? – Politics K-12 – Education Week.

Arne Duncan Asked Failing Schools to Add Instructional Time; Did It Help? – Education Week

By Alyson Klein

Extended learning time has been at the heart of many of the Obama administration’s school turnaround strategies. Schools that get money through the School Improvement Grant program have to extend the school day, or year. And states with waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act have to add extra learning time for “priority” schools (those that are among the worst in the state) .

But adding extra time to the day or year is a lot easier said than done, according to a report released Tuesday by the Center on Education Policy, a research organization in Washington. And it’s far too early to say whether adding time really has done much to move the needle on student achievement, in part because it’s early going and in part because extended learning time is usually paired with a lot of other strategies.

via Arne Duncan Asked Failing Schools to Add Instructional Time; Did It Help? – Politics K-12 – Education Week.