ESSA is the most recent version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and will be replacing the No Child Left Behind Act. NCLB has been in place since 2002. NCLB brought us:
- Required state standards in the areas of mathematics, reading and science
- Required state to create English Language Development (ELD) standards for English learners
- Mandated state testing annually for all public school students in the areas of reading and mathematics in grades 3-8 and once in high school. Minnesota responded by creating the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment Reading and Mathematics tests.
- Required state testing annually for all public schools in the area of science once in each of the following groups of grades: 3-5, 6-9 and 10-12. MN responded by creating the MCA Science tests at grades 5, 8 and high school.
- Requirements that schools must improve the percent of students testing as proficient over time, culminating in 100% of students proficient by 2014;
- The groups of students that must show adequate yearly progress (AYP) included all students as a group, 5 ethnic groups, Sepecial education students, Linited English Profeciency students, and free and reduced price lunch students
- A requirement that 95%+ of the eligible students participate in the annual testing
- Sanctions for schools that failed to meet their proficiency targets
- Highly qualified teacher requirements
As the NCLB requirements phase out and the ESSA requirements are phased in, some of the NCLB requirements are carried forward. In some areas, the requirements have been modified, and in other areas, states are given some flexibility in determining how to implement the ESSA requirements.
- States must still have standards in the areas of mathematics, reading and science
- The academic standards must now be aligned with entrance requirements for credit-bearing coursework in higher education
- The academic standards must now be aligned with relevant state career and technical education standards
- The US Secretary of Education is prohibited from requiring specific academic standards, such as the Common Core State Standards
- States must still have English Language Development (ELD) standards for English learners
- The annual testing requirements for mathematics, reading and science remain the same as under NCLB
- The 95% participation requirement in testing remains in place
- However, the AYP measurement system and related sanctions are now eliminated
- ESSA now requires that states/school districts inform parents of their right to “opt out” (opt their children out of state testing)
- If certain technical requirements are met, ESSA allows school districts the option of using locally adopted assessments instead of the state assessments; At the high school level, a nationally recognized college entrance exam could be used instead of the state test.
- 7 states will be awarded grants to develop Innovative State Assessments
As the MN Department of Education prepares for the implementation of ESSA, they have shared the following timeline:
General MN ESSA Planning Timeline for 2016
|Jan 27||Meeting with legislators|
|Feb 9||First large stakeholder informational meeting|
|April-May||Topic area meetings with stakeholder groups to dive deeper into the requirements of ESSA|
|May-June||USDE is expected to release draft regulations|
|June-July||Topic area workgroups may begin to meet|
|Aug-Oct||Regional meetings to lay out ESSA requirements and framework|
|Oct||USDE is expected to release final new regulations|
|Nov-Dec||Re-convene stakeholders for final workgroup discussion on ESSA|
|Early 2017||Be prepared to submit ESSA state plan. Timelines for submission are unknown at this time.|
As the MN Department of Education does the planning for implementation of ESSA in the 2017/2018 school year, it is holding stakeholder meetings to involve stakeholders from all levels. SciMathMN has distributed the schedule of stakeholder meetings to Board members and we are encouraged to participate.