Friday, December 11, 2015

Every Student Achieves Act

Yesterday, President Obama signed the new “Every Student Achieves Act”.  He stated, “This bill upholds the core value that animated the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act signed by President Lyndon Johnson [April 11, 1965], the value that says education, the key to economic opportunity, is a civil right.”

What does this mean for the School District of Janesville?  In the short-term, the School District of Janesville will remain in a holding pattern with regards to curriculum, testing and other aspects of education until the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction can assess and determine new roles and responsibilities. In the long run, aspects of this new act will filter to local districts and we will weigh in on the logistics that will impact our own students and begin to create our own plan for implementation that corresponds with our Excellence in Education.

Dr. Kim Ehrhardt, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment is pleased that the new legislation has been passed. He states, “We know that under the new law, the U.S. Department of Education will exercise a much-diminished role and no longer be able to sanction underperforming schools.  Instead, states will be responsible for working with schools and local districts to develop achievement goals and accountability plans.  Hopefully, the new law will be supportive of the School District of Janesville’s efforts to move forward its quality agenda to ensure that teaching, learning, curriculum and instruction are rigorous, relevant and engaging for all students without out the complicated reporting requirements that have previously existed--and were expanding. Specific details of how things will really look (under the new law) are yet to be determined. I would expect that Department of Public Instruction to start to roll out some of the changes this spring. Until then, we are in a holding pattern.” 

Many are interested in how this new law impacts testing. Legislation will continue required testing in math and reading for all students in grades three to eight and one year in high school, however, the amount of time associated with this testing will decrease.

Positive impact on education in the School District of Janesville and across the country include, but are not limited to, some of the following:

  • The act encourages innovative ways to engage students in learning with an emphasis on STEM;
  • Provides accountability measures that connect to college and career readiness;
  • Gives flexibility to state education agencies to dedicate more resources for training and professional development;
  • Allows 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) funds to be used for specific “afterschool-like” activities;
  • Strengthens school-community partnerships to include sharing of data and resources and leverage relationships for intentional alignment with the school day;
  • Non-academic indicators will now be considered in local accountability systems offering a more comprehensive picture of school success through state and district report cards shedding light on schools’ progress toward educational equity.

Parents and guardians can be assured that student success and achievement will remain a top priority as we navigate and look forward to this new horizon for education.  I've included a link to our State Superintendent's response to this new act here:

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