ESEA Reauthorization: Where are we headed?
The Obama Administration has released its “blueprint” for ESEA reauthorization. What’s in it? This article summarizes some of the major concepts.

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ESEA Reauthorization: Where are we headed?

In March, the Obama Administration released its blueprint for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The blueprint offers broad concepts regarding changes to the current version of the law, commonly known as the No Child Left Behind Act.

While details of the plan have yet to be fully released, here’s a glance at some of the items contained in the Blueprint for Reform. To view the entire blueprint, go to http://www2.ed.gov/policy/ elsec/leg/blueprint/blueprint.pdf.

• The plan would require states to adopt standards in English language arts and math that prepare students for college and career readiness. States would have two options to meet this requirement: 1) coordinating with their public university systems or 2) collaborating with other states to develop common standards.

• State accountability systems would recognize progress and reward success. There would also be consequences for schools, districts and states not making progress.

• The plan refers to “performance targets” based on student growth and graduation rates, not the categories of proficiency currently used for accountability.

      - Those that are successful in reaching performance
         targets, closing achievement gaps and turning
         around low-performing schools would be
         recognized as “Reward” schools, districts and
         states.

      - Those identified as “Challenge” schools, districts
         and states would be required to make dramatic
         changes. Challenge schools are those that rank
         among the state’s lowest-performing schools;
         however, there are several categories of challenge
         schools.

• The blueprint calls for comprehensive state and district data systems, including disaggregated data as we currently have. But it also calls for collecting information related to: teaching and learning conditions; school climate; student, teacher and school leader attendance; disciplinary incidents; or student, parent or school staff surveys.

• In the area of teacher and school leader effectiveness, states would be required to develop definitions of what “effective” means.

• The plan also calls for state data systems that link information on teacher and principal preparation programs to job placement, student growth and retention outcomes of their graduates.

• District-level evaluation systems would need to differentiate teacher and principal effectiveness, using at least three performance measures.