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What is the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)?

The Basics:
The Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA) replaces and updates the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  ESSA requires states to design their own accountability systems for schools and teachers which allows local governments to design their own standards for school quality, rather than strictly following federal guideliens.  

What it means for schools:

  • States must submit accountability plans to the Education Department, as well as design their own goals and accountability systems.
  • States have to intervene in the bottom 5 percent of performers.
  • States have to test students in reading and math in grades 3 thorugh 8, and once in high school.
  • States have to adopt "challenging" academic standards, which are not neessarily the Common Core State Standards.

What it means for parents:
Districts must conduct outreach to parents and family members, as well as implement programs, activities, and procedures for the involvement of families in activities.  Parents and communities have the right to engage with the schools and help drive programmatic and policy decisions.  ESSA is designed to encourage the meaningful inclusion of parents and families in progressing towards educational equity.  States and districts will also make efforts to better fund low-income students and those with special 

How will schools be held accountable?

The Basics:
In order to recieve Title I funding, states much create their own accountability systems that are simple, clear, and fair to evaluate schools in their districts by collecting a wide array of data and information about students and teachers.  States also must identify schools that need "comprehensive" or "targeted" support so that districts and the schools themselves can craft plans for improvement.  

What it means for schools:
School quality will be judged on both academic and non-academic indicators.  Examples of academic indicators include state test proficiency, English-language proficiency, and growth on state tests.  Other indicators might include student engagement, educator engagement, access to and completion of advanced coursework, postsecondary readiness, school climate and/or school safety.  In the bottom 5 percent of schools, schools with high dropout rates, and schools where certain subgroups are struggling, districts and schools must work together to form an evidence-based plan to help students who are falling behind.

What it means for parents:
School quality and measurements of success will not only be based on academic achievement indicators, but also on indicators of student growth and school environment.  Districts and schools will also have to work harder to help low-income, students with special needs, underserved communities, and students who otherwise need extra support.

What is Title I?

The Basics:
Title I is a national government program that gives money to schools with a high number of low-income students.

What it means for schools:
Schools must use these funds only to help students who are failing to meet state standards. If more than 40% of a school’s students are from low-income families then the school may use the funds for school-wide programs.

What it means for parents:
If your child is failing to meet state standards for his or her grade level, they should have access to additional support under Title I. If you are unsure if your child is getting the support they need, ask your school’s principal how Title I funds are being used

What is a charter school?

The Basics:
Charter schools are public schools that do not have to follow all of the regulations that traditional public schools do. Charter schools must report to the state or local school board every 3-5 years and show that they have made academic gains with students in order to stay open.

What it means for schools:
Charter schools can choose their own curriculum, create their own discipline systems, and hire or fire teachers as they see fit. Some have certain requirements for admission, but many are open enrollment, just like traditional public schools.

What it means for parents:
Charter schools give parents who want to send their children to public schools more options. Just like any other public school, parents should research charter schools before enrolling their children to ensure that they will provide the excellent education their kids deserve.

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