On June 20, 2016, Chiefs for Change submitted public comments to the U.S. Department of Education on proposed regulations regarding accountability and state plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
ESSA reflects many of the key priorities of Chiefs for Change, and we are firmly committed to its successful implementation. Chiefs for Change is a network of diverse, bipartisan state and district education Chiefs dedicated to preparing all students for today’s world and tomorrow’s. ESSA empowers Chiefs to take on this work at the state and local levels.
The proposed rules strike a careful and appropriate balance between, on the one hand, providing state and local leaders with the flexibility they need to implement ESSA in a manner aligned to state and local circumstances, needs, and priorities and, on the other, providing certain “guardrails” to ensure that the new law enables a better education for all students.
For our members, the legislation and regulations do not represent a significant departure from current practice in many key areas, and we are generally comfortable with the Department’s proposals on the structure and weighting of accountability indicators, focus on evidence-based interventions for school improvement, and requirement for a single summative rating of school performance.
We do believe that the Department should consider certain changes to the proposal. We specifically recommend revisions in the following areas: timeline for the implementation of new accountability systems; the use of only a 4-year cohort high school graduation rate to identify schools in need of comprehensive support and improvement; and burden reduction in SEA and LEA reporting requirements.
Robust stakeholder engagement, particularly with parents and with teachers, will be essential to our collective success. With the input of their communities, state and local leaders will design new accountability systems that leverage the expanded flexibility provided under ESSA to provide meaningful identification of schools in need of support and to focus on evidence-based interventions designed to improve student outcomes.
Chiefs for Change believes that ESSA signals a new era for local, state, and federal efforts to improve educational achievement for all students. We realize that along with the greater flexibility granted to states under this bill comes more responsibility for states to get this right. Our members look forward to working with the Department and with one another to advance equity and outcomes for all students.