We usually write about developments in the legislature, but there is critical activity involving the State Board of Education with profound implications. Frankly, we’re worried about the direction they are headed.
We are worried the Board is about to take major steps backward for Illinois kids by undermining the system that lets parents and educators track school performance, instead of improving it.
You’ve probably heard about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the federal law that requires States to create plans for their accountability systems. ESSA replaced the well intended but poorly executed No Child Left Behind Act. In Illinois, responsibility for the accountability plan falls most heavily on the State Board of Ed and State Superintendent.
We were so alarmed when we saw the latest draft plan that four Stand members spoke up at the Board meeting last week. The Governor voiced similar concerns.
- Growth matters more than proficiency. We should measure how much our children learn in school, not how much they knew before they started.
- Students from historically underserved subgroups should count. Overall ratings need to take into account that all students matter. With one of the largest academic achievement gaps in the country, Illinois cannot afford a system that turns a blind eye to this.
- School rating labels should make sense to parents. Families deserve user-friendly information about how their children’s schools are doing.
- Getting it right is more important than getting it done fast. ESSA plans are very complicated, and the state’s draft has a long way to go. We aren’t sure what the rush is to submit a flawed plan by April, when all states have until September.