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What should school leaders know about ESSA?

David Bahna, Director of Assessment & Accountability, Adams 12 Five Star Schools

David Bahna, Director of Assessment & Accountability, Adams 12 Five Star Schools

With bright, sunny skies and an impending storm of one million Broncos fans descending on the city, local district and agency leaders joined PEBC last Tuesday to unpack the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the new education law recently approved by Congress that takes the place of No Child Left Behind. What we came away with was a deeper understanding of a complex new policy that will begin affecting our education system almost immediately. Simply put, ESSA gives a lot of power back to the states. Principals, in particular, were interested in what ESSA means for their schools and the students they serve. Some wondered what the impact will be on funding and how that should be influencing their budget decisions now. Others voiced questions around the impact on accountability and reporting; and how might the shift away from highly qualified teacher language change the evaluation and observation process?

High School student webIt was clear, however, that principals are most concerned about how these changes will impact their students. With the recent shift from ACT to SAT in high schools, principals felt frustrated that there were yet more changes in store for their students and parents. How would they effectively communicate the changes in the law to the parents in their communities without causing more angst?

ESSA is a complicated and nuanced act that will take time to understand on a deeper and more systemic level. In the coming weeks, this group of leaders, advocates and stakeholders will meet again to further identify how ESSA will impact our schools, our children and our communities. Stayed tuned!

PEBC convened local thought partners inclusive of Adams 12 Five Star Schools, Aurora Public Schools, Boettcher Teacher Residency, Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB), Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE), Colorado Department of Education, Colorado Education Association, Denver Public Schools, Great Education Colorado,  Jeffco Public Schools and Stanley Teacher Prep.

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