When I started teaching, the No Child Left Behind law as in place. I learned very little about this law in my teacher prep program. I was never offered professional development on what the federal governing law said about education. I quickly grew misconceptions about the federal law that governed public schools.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, “NCLB represented a significant step forward for our nation’s children in many respects, particularly as it shined a light on where students were making progress and where they needed additional support, regardless of race, income, zip code, disability, home language, or background.” Yet the consensus amongst the teachers I know is NCLB “set high goals with little support for implementation,” “created a sense of urgency to move from teaching to test prep,” and “was punitive to schools rather than solutions-based.” As a new teacher, I was confused about what was actually written into the law to help students and what was inadvertently hurting students.
President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015. This law, replacing No Child Left Behind, provides high standards for all students, provides more students with preschool options, reduces the burden of testing, and promotes local innovation.
ESSA places more responsibility of policy making on each individual state. While accountability is required, Washington State (and every other state) gets to decide how success will be measured. Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, will not longer be a required reporting. Instead, a plan for the following concepts is being created:
- Long term goals and measurement of interim progress
- Consultation and coordination of stakeholders
- Challenging academic standards and assessments
- Accountability, support, and improvement for schools
- Supporting excellent educators
- Supporting all students
All states are working on their ESSA Consolidated Plan. In Washington State, a summary document, as well as the full plan, have been made available for viewing. Prior to finalizing our plan, the public is being asked for comments. I am personally excited for this transition and call for public comments. I, unacceptably, taught for 10 years without a clear understanding of federal governance. Now, as a teacher, I have not only the privilege, but the responsibility, of representing my students’ needs. You do too! It is imperative that we, as teachers, not only understand education law, but that we advocate for laws that fairly serve our students.
Take some time to read about how ESSA is changing policy in our state and nation. Be sure to leave your feedback for OSPI here!
I grew up here in Western Washington, wanting to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. As the oldest child in my family, I had plenty of opportunities to "practice" teaching my younger siblings. I enjoyed this. They may not have. :) When I'm not working, I enjoy outdoor activities with my husband and our two Australian Shepherds (whom are far too spoiled for their own good!). I also love spending time with my family, being an auntie (to the cutest kids ever to grace this planet!), hosting dinner parties for friends, crafting, taking photographs and shopping.