Spring 2016

ATPE News is the official publication of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the largest educator association in Texas. The magazine addresses the most important issues affecting public education in the state. Learn more at

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12 | atpe news your ally. your voice. by Kate Kuhlmann, ATPE lobbyist U.S. Senate education leaders have come together to develop the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015. Congress Leaves Behind NCLB and Hopes that Every Child Succeeds In a historic move just before the December holiday break, the U.S. Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) or No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Much of the law's detail will unfold as the U.S. Department of Education (ED) works to issue guidance and fnalize rules concerning implementation of the law. Below is a primer on the major provisions. The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 After years of inaction on the long-overdue reau- thorization of ESEA, U.S. Senate education leaders came together to develop a bipartisan reauthoriza- tion bill. NCLB meant federally imposed policies, like standardized tests. In contrast, the new law, ESSA, recognizes that American public education should be a state and local responsibility. Although some of NCLB's policies remain, ESSA returns considerable control to states, a move ATPE has encouraged for years. As of this summer, the new law will nullify Secretary Duncan's controversial waiver system, and the decision of whether to adopt many of the favorable reforms included in those waivers, such as teacher evaluations tied to student test scores, will be left to states. Accountability Under ESSA, states are required to develop multiple-measure accountability systems that consist of at least four indicators: student achievement on state assessments, profciency rates for English language learners, an additional academic indicator (such as student growth) for elementary and middle schools or graduation rates for high schools, and an indicator of school quality determined by the state (like a measure of college and career readiness, educator engagement rates, or climate survey results). States must set goals for most of the indicators and will continue to report on student subgroups. States are also still required to identify low-per- forming schools with evidence-based intervention determined locally. Those interventions are required in the bottom fve percent of schools and in schools with graduation rates below 68 percent. Testing Under ESSA, students must still be tested in reading and math in grades 3-8 and once in high school. Students will still be tested in science three times between grades 3 and 12. However, districts may now meet high school testing requirements with nationally recognized assessments, such as the SAT or ACT. While ESSA keeps the testing requirements from NCLB, some fexibility was added. States can now establish a limit on the total amount of time spent on testing. Assessments can be in different forms, such as portfolios or projects, and the ED will administer a pilot allowing a handful of states or groups to experiment with innovative assessment systems. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the country's chief K-12 education law, was originally signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. Since the law's inception, it has been reauthorized (or amended) numerous times and dubbed various names along the way. Perhaps the most recognizable change was in 2001, when Congress rewrote the law with a bill termed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the most recent bill to reauthorize or amend the ESEA.

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