Tag Archives: NCLB reauthorization

ESSA is a Win for Homeless Students

Much has been written about how the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) solves nothing, continues the long federal retreat from education, and will leave vulnerable children behind. But what has been regularly overlooked is that ESSA is actually a win for the more than 2.5 million children and youth who experience homelessness each year.

Ensuring school stability for homeless children is critical, but there are very real barriers to doing so. Students often lack important paperwork, like medical records and proof of residency, making it difficult to enroll in school. Once enrolled, housing instability can mean high mobility and frequent absences, making it difficult for children and youth to access a consistent, quality education. A lack of transportation can make it difficult for students to get to school or for parents to participate in school activities for their children. Moreover, parents and youth often experience fear, shame, and embarrassment about their situations and avoid asking for help.

Thankfully, federal legislation (through Title I Part A and the McKinney-Vento Act)—and the amendments made to these programs under ESSA—has helped address many of these barriers. These programs have created structures to enable homeless students to enroll in school, remain in the same school, and access appropriate academic services like special education or gifted programming. The passage of ESSA demonstrates encouraging progress toward even greater protection and support for these students.

In particular, the amendments address the needs of two subgroups of homeless students: preschoolers and unaccompanied youths. Continue reading

What Does the NCLB Rewrite Mean for Personalized Learning?

On Monday federal lawmakers released the final text of the bill to replace No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which expired in 2007. While this week’s buzz on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has revolved around state accountability (or lack thereof), it’s also worth looking at how the billNCLB—over 1,000 pages long—affects other aspects of schooling. Education technology, in particular, has undergone dramatic changes since the last reauthorization, but federal and state education policies haven’t kept up and have even created barriers to tech-based innovations.

Will the long-awaited rewrite of NCLB create an opportunity for personalized learning? Yes, but only for states willing to take charge. Here are four takeaways:

  1. A proposed edtech program that was hailed by personalized learning champions didn’t make the cut.

Previously, the Senate version of the bill established the I-TECH program (in the House bill, it was called the Schools of the Future Act) to create dedicated federal funding for edtech, with an emphasis on professional development for educators. In October nearly 20 senators and representatives voiced strong support for keeping this standalone edtech program in the final bill.

Personalized learning advocates will be disappointed that I-TECH didn’t make it into the final bill. Continue reading

For Most Students, the ESEA Reauthorization Bill Is A Big Ole Nothing Burger

It’s hard to tell what the theory of action behind the latest ESEA bill is. As far as I can tell, the only accountability–such as it is–is targeted at the bottom 5 percent of schools. Even in those schools the interventions are weak, but the bill has no real ambitions to improve outcomes for students in the remaining 95 percent of schools. Continue reading

To My Friend Mike Petrilli: Please Stop Confusing the ESEA Debate

The Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrilli has a new post attempting to explain why the Right and Left should come together to support the Every Child Achieves Act, the Senate’s current proposal to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act. His reasons why liberals should support the bill are, shall we say, out of touch:

Civil rights groups and others should welcome its maintenance of annual testing; its continuing emphasis on the collection and dissemination of student achievement data disaggregated by key subgroups; and its requirement that states and districts take action to deal with chronically failing schools.

Get that? He gives liberals like me three reasons to support the bill. The first is annual testing, which, yes, I do support annual testing in English and math, but so did conservatives like Mike not that long ago. Heck, back in 2011 when the Fordham Institute still believed in “reform realism,” it took annual testing for granted and even went so far as to call for the feds to mandate all states measure student growth. (Needless to say, Mike is no longer calling for student growth, and appears fine with the bill’s quiet demurral to NCLB-era measures of school performance.)

His second justification to support the current bill is that it includes the same transparency requirements as NCLB. That’s good, but again, it’s not a liberal position. Transparency and transparency alone was Fordham’s position back in 2011. Nothing’s changed for Mike, except that now he’s trying to convince us that it’s a “win” for the Left. (And he willfully ignores the research suggesting that transparency alone is not a sufficient accountability mechanism.)

His third justification is that states and districts must take action in response to low-performing schools. This is technically true; the bill does require each state to:

describe…the State educational agency’s system to monitor and evaluate the intervention and support strategies implemented by local educational agencies in schools identified as in need of intervention and support… including the lowest-performing schools… and the steps the State will take to further assist local educational agencies, if such strategies are not effective.

But the bill sets no parameters on how states identify low-performing schools (assuming they choose to identify any at all!) or on what states must do in those circumstances. Worse, the bill actively limits the federal government’s power to ensure that states are doing something meaningful with billions of dollars in federal investments (like this). If Mike thinks blanket promises from states are sufficient for civil rights advocates or liberals like myself, he should go out and talk to more liberals and civil rights advocates.

8 Thoughts on Lamar Alexander & Patty Murray’s “Every Child Achieves Act of 2015”

Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray released a bipartisan draft bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Check out Education Week’s Lauren Camera for the rundown, or read the full 600-page bill yourself. Here are my 8 takeaways:  Continue reading