Making the Most of the Opportunity to Engage

One of the most common criticisms and downfalls of education reforms is that they feel like they are “done to” rather than “created by” the very communities they are intended to support.  Yet, at this very moment, we have a golden opportunity to raise the voices of teachers, leaders, parents, students, and their communities and meaningfully include their priorities in state and local planning for reform through the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).


Want Your ESSA Plan To Ensure Equal Access to Effective Teachers? Targeted Strategies Are Your Best Bet!

Want Your ESSA Plan To Ensure Equal Access to Effective Teachers? Targeted Strategies Are Your Best Bet!
By Sandi Jacobs
One perspective on teacher quality and the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) holds that ESSA marks an end to the federal focus on teacher effectiveness strategies that developed and grew over the last decade. With no explicit requirements in Title II and released from the conditions of their NCLB waivers, this argument holds, states will hastily retreat from new teacher evaluation systems and reforms in other related areas such as teacher preparation, tenure, licensure, and compensation.

Rather than targeted strategies specifically designed to aid recruitment and retention in high-needs districts and schools, the Equity Plans most often speak to “rising tide” approaches intended to increase teacher quality generally in all schools.

But whether or not you believe that federal policy has been the major driver of states’ teacher efforts over the last decade, this point of view undersells a very significant point in ESSA, one that potentially makes teacher quality an even more important topic going forward.  ESSA doesn’t roll back at […]


“This Is Not Your Grandfather’s NACIQI”; Takeaways from the June Institutional Quality Review Meeting

“This Is Not Your Grandfather’s NACIQI”; Takeaways from the June
Institutional Quality Review Meeting
By Amber Saddler
Amber Saddler is a Policy Assistant with EducationCounsel where she works on a range of higher education and K-12 issues to help improve equity and education access for all students. She enjoys long walks on the beach and observing federal advisory boards at work.
Recently, I joined the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) and spent three very long and very exciting days in a hotel conference room in Northern Virginia while the committee made recommendations to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to continue or deny federal recognition to programmatic and institutional accreditation agencies wishing to serve as gatekeepers to federal funding under Title IV of the Higher Education Act.
Among the audience, there was great interest in NACIQI’s recommendation to ED to revoke federal recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). While ACICS was the only agency NACIQI is currently suggesting should have its recognition removed, many committee members made it clear that other accrediting agencies, especially the […]


Start Your Engines: Why Pending, Draft Federal Regulations on ESSA State Plans Are So Important, And Five Things to Look For

In the days ahead, the US Department of Education (ED) is expected to publish its first proposed regulations under the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This will likely include hundreds of pages of draft regulations and explanation on critical education policy issues under Title I of the Act, including federal requirements regarding state assessments, state accountability systems, and state-local supports for lowest-performing schools. But the proposed regulations will also address another critical topic that has gotten less attention – “consolidated state plans.”
These state plans are critical to the success of ESSA implementation, as they will likely define (at least in part) the contours of state (and local) implementation over the next several years, and will likely jump start ESSA activity. If done right, state plans will set expectations for leadership, coherence, impact, and continuous improvement in ESSA implementation. This is the first time in nearly 15 years that states must take a comprehensive look at their plans under federal law.
Here are five questions that stakeholders should ask as states and districts begin to develop their consolidated plans:

What is […]


Musings from Negotiated Rulemaking

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then what should we make of the recent Negotiated Rulemaking for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)? To those (lucky? insane?) few who attended all eight days of these regulatory debates, “Neg Reg” was both beautiful—a rare and wonktastic event—and, well, not-so-beautiful—72 hours of crawling through the weediest of weeds. Regardless, it was a fascinating example of participatory democracy and a demonstration of the professionalism and commitment of both the U.S. Department of Education (ED) staff and all the negotiators.


ESSA: Opportunities and Risks in Assessment

Assessment received a great deal of attention at the beginning of the final sprint to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, largely around the question of whether to maintain requirements for annual assessments. In the end, the headline-grabbing shifts mostly took place elsewhere, especially in Title I accountability and educator evaluation. Yet a deeper look at the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) reveals complex and important changes to federal assessment policy as well. States and districts now have several opportunities to advance their development of high-quality systems of assessment.


ESSA: Opportunities and Risks

Last week President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaces the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). As the President noted at the signing ceremony, ESSA represents an all-too-rare bipartisan effort after many years’ delay (what he called a “Christmas miracle”) and an affirmation of education as a continuing national priority.  At the same time, the President’s signature only begins the next phase of work in understanding, leveraging, and implementing the law. ESSA’s ultimate impact will depend greatly on what states, districts, and advocates make of it.


President Obama signs Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

On December 10, 2015 the President signed the “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA), which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). This document provides a brief summary based on our legal and policy judgment of some key provisions in the 1061-page ESSA bill based on our initial read. The precise meaning and impact of ESSA will continue to play out through regulations, guidance, and implementation over the coming months and years – presenting both opportunities and risks on the federal, state, and local levels for improving education systems and outcomes for all students in the nation.


The Right Trajectory – State Teachers of the Year Compare Former and New State Assessments

This LatestCounsel post was written by Terri Taylor, Policy & Legal Advisor.
EducationCounsel has been supporting the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) to study what excellent teachers think about assessments, given the opportunity to perform a close, side-by-side analysis of the new and old tests. We were particularly interested in their thoughts about the quality and utility of the new assessments compared to the prior state tests. After all, teachers can be powerful champions for good assessment. As those closest to the process of preparing for and administering assessments, teachers have essential perspectives that parents, students, and other educators trust. Moreover, teachers can uniquely explain whether an assessment reflects good classroom practice and asks students to demonstrate what they know and can do.