"Every Student Succeeds Act" Plan
The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) opened the door to reforming the way we measure school quality. Before this, schools were measured based only on standardized test scores, which was a poor way to judge how much progress their students were making. Students who started the year far behind grade level might grow a lot in a year, but still test below grade level. Likewise, students who come to school ahead of the curve will pass the test regardless of the quality of their education that year.
Under ESSA, schools are measured based on multiple academic factors and school culture indicators, including student growth, freshman-on-track rates, chronic absenteeism, and a new college- and career-readiness framework. Scores for student cohorts (subgroups), such as low-income students or students with special needs are disaggregated and can trigger a lower rating for schools with significantly under-performing subgroups. Each school receives an easy-to-understand rating (Exemplary, Commendable, Under-Performing, or Lowest-Performing). Finally, a system of supports called IL-EMPOWER pairs lower-performing schools with experts to help them improve.
The Illinois State Board of Education regularly reviews the State’s ESSA plan and periodically makes recommendations on how to change it. It is incumbent upon the public to make sure our ESSA plan remains strong and equity-focused.
For a fun explanation of ESSA and what it means for your child’s school, check out Stand’s "A Better Recipe for Better Illinois Schools" video.