Wednesday, March 15, 2017

On ESSA Rules Change: Will Opt Out Be Affected?

My initial reaction to ESSA rules changes was the less feds the better, given the past 20 years. Like, liberals supported a fed heavy hand to force states like Mississippi to do better educationally -- good luck with that. The cost to us was testing, wasteful accountability, closing schools, charters -- ed deform. I'm ready to say -- screw Mississippi.

A couple of varying views on the new ESSA changes in the time of DeVos/Trump.

Leonie Haimson: Why dumping the ESSA regs is not a big deal; and what is 
There has been an unnecessary amount of angst and ink spilled on the blogs and elsewhere over the fact that Congress has voted on eliminating the ESSA regulations on accountability.  It bears repeating that the law itself -- the Every Student Succeeds Act -- still exists in force and is quite prescriptive, for good or for ill only now just a little bit less so.  ..... I only wish that the accountability hawks within the DC corporate reform groups and civil rights organizations would pay as much attention to the conditions of learning as they do on testing.  By now, they should  recognize that access to high-stakes tests has never been a necessary precondition to improving schools, nor has it been helpful.  

Now many of the Inside-the-Beltway education advocacy groups protested hugely against Congress’ elimination of the ESSA regs, arguing that this somehow would lessen the need for states to try to improve struggling schools and help low-scoring kids.  If they really cared about addressing low-performance rather than merely punishing schools with opt out rates, they should have supported this additional flexibility – to ensure that those schools that really need extra help are provided with the extra support they need.
Jim Horn: What Ending Regulations on ESSA Will Mean
 there is reason to believe that that the removal of federal regulations could escalate the move to state voucher programs that hand over cheap vouchers to the poorest children to “choose” a charter school or a below-average private school.  States will be free to make it up as they along, as long as they stay true to privatization intent and methodology within ESSA.
There is also reason to believe to that the removal of federal guidance for ESSA may result in more special needs children and ELL students going unidentified and unserved.
In fact, there are some former Obama officials who point out a host of things that will be lost by losing the federal guidance.  
No doubt I and everyone else will find some elements of the trashed guidance as awful as the ESSA itself, but I would argue that some guidance is better than none, especially when you have Trumpists ready to burn down all public institutions, without forethought of consequence. 
On opt-out, Leonie comments:
... at least 95% of the students in each testing grade must be included in the denominator of the academic indicator for each school, whether they took the test or not. ... What this seemingly technical but very damaging requirement would seem to do is to force states to label schools with high opt out rates as failing – which would be a travesty especially in New York, where many otherwise high-performing schools had opt-out rates of 50% or more. 
Read both in full:
Jim Horn: What Ending Regulations on ESSA Will Mean
Leonie Haimson: Why dumping the ESSA regs is not a big deal; and what is 

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