Every Student Succeeds – How New Legislation Affects Teachers

Road sign to education and futureIt is important as educators and leaders in the field to not only be aware of new legislation in education but to understand how new legislation will affect the day to day work of teachers and administrators.

With a new administration in the White House and new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos now at the helm, there has been a sense of uncertainty when it comes to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

One thing that has helped give some insight into what lies ahead, is a letter sent to Chief State School Officers earlier this year. In this letter, DeVos stated, “I am writing today to assure you that I fully intend to implement and enforce the statutory requirements of the ESSA.” Click here for the full Letter from Secretary DeVos.

With the nod to move forward, many states began working on and turning in their State Plan Requests, including Maine.

Maine’s plan has a “learners first” approach that targets:

  • Effective, Learner-Centered Instruction
    • Standards and curricula, classroom practices and instructional techniques, assessment of student learning, and the use of data to inform decision-making
  • Great Teachers and Leaders
    • Ensuring that every student is surrounded by great educators means focusing on the need to provide top-quality preparation and ongoing support to the state’s teachers and leaders
  • Multiple Pathways for Learner Achievement
    • Building an educational system with unprecedented flexibility and multiple avenues for student success
  • Comprehensive School and Community Supports
    • Ensure that learners have access to the services they need to be successful and that families and the broader community outside the school walls are engaged partners in teaching and learning
  • Coordinated and Effective State Support
    • Carefully align the entire educational system so that learners can move seamlessly from one educational opportunity to the next, including integrating technology and putting accountability structures in place

The above list is taken from pages six and seven of the Maine Consolidated State Plan.

Strategic Plan Framework

Graphic taken from page eight of the Maine Consolidated State Plan.

Maine’s vision

Maine’s Department of Education has stated in their new vision, “All schools have improvements that can be made to enhance and improve instructional support to students, and all Maine schools must strive to improve. The zip code of a school should not be a determining factor regarding the implementation of school improvement supports”. (pg 10) This vision comes with some aspirational goals, including having 90% of Maine students’ graduate college and career ready by 2030.

Distribution of funds

Targeted revision of state education goals, such as those taken in Maine, fall directly in line with the new way funds are to be distributed. Instead of small individual grants, new ESSA regulations will give larger block grants with the intention of providing states with more control of the funding. This, of course, means that states must reconfigure how funding formulas work.

Representing a major shift

All of these changes are major shifts from the previous No Child Left Behind legislation. From how student success is being measured, what levels of professional development are being offered, and how funds are distributed; it is a lot to take in. Being proactive rather than reactive can empower educators and make change more meaningful.

As an educator, it is crucial to drill down into the details of state plans, to research and investigate the theories and implications behind the goals presented in those plans, and to then ask thoughtful questions about implementation.

For more information on other states:

(2017, August 28). ME Consolidated State Plan[https://www.maine.gov/doe/essa/documents/ME_ConsolidatedStatePlan VF with signature.pdf]. Maine, Augusta.

D. (2017, February 10). U.S. Education Secretary DeVos Issues Letter to Chief State School Officers [Letter to Chief State School Officers]. Washington D.C.

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