Monday, May 9, 2016

ESSA Update: The Details Matter for Equity

| by Cory Curl, Associate Executive Director |

As we discussed here late last year, the U.S. Congress approved a new version of the federal Elementary and Secondary Act. This version, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), gives states some more leeway in how they design their K-12 school and district accountability systems.

This move at the federal level gives us an opportunity to do what we do so well in Kentucky. We have a long history of working together to set clear, meaningful goals for student and school success. We then come together around a set of shared measures to show how schools and districts are – or are not – making progress toward these goals.

To that end, the Kentucky Department of Education has just concluded a series of 11 town hall meetings across the Commonwealth. At the town hall meetings, Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt and Associate Commissioner Rhonda Sims shared information about ESSA and listened to educators, parents, and students about how they define student and school success. Videos and summaries of these meetings are available online, along with comments that have been submitted via email.

The next few months will be an important time for Kentuckians to continue engaging in these conversations. Everyone has a seat at the table to contribute to the process of setting these goals and measures, which will have so much influence on the priorities that schools and districts set for years to come.

As the process unfolds, it will be critical to make sure that the goals and measures give schools and districts a big push to prioritize equity, making sure that every child gets what he or she needs to be successful in their next steps. This is the only way that Kentucky will be able to close the achievement gaps that have persisted for so long.

ESSA will help us on this front. While it gives states more flexibility in how they design their systems, it includes several requirements intended to ensure that equity is a priority for schools and districts.

To keep you informed on ESSA’s requirements and flexibilities, we are partnering with The Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for high academic achievement for all students, particularly students of color and students in poverty. We have developed a series of fact sheets, below, to translate what’s in the federal law to what it means for us here in Kentucky.

The Every Student Succeeds Act: What’s In It? What Does it Mean for Equity?
Public Reporting

Update: View our May 12th Community Conversations webinar with The Education Trust 

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Updates and data on Kentucky education!