Last December, Congress replaced No Child Left Behind (NCLB) with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The shift gives states significantly more flexibility about how to identify schools that are succeeding and support for schools that are struggling.
Remember how NCLB labelled virtually every school as failing? That’s right, in the last few years, schools had to have 100% of students meeting or exceeding standards, regardless of where students started or how much they learned in that school. The flexibility to design a more meaningful and achievable system could be a great thing for Illinois schools…. But it also means that it is up to parents and community members to be vigilant and speak up for a fair system that provides clear and transparent information to families, appropriate attention to closing achievement gaps, and individualized supports for struggling schools.
The Illinois State Board of Education has been engaging communities about ESSA early and often. They came out with their draft plan and are making revisions in response to stakeholder feedback. (Our feedback letter is here.) Next month, we anticipate a new version coming out with more concrete details, followed by another listening tour.