The Delaware Dept. of Education will have three more Every Student Succeeds Act Community Engagement meetings in the next week. They held a meeting in Georgetown on Tuesday. The next three meetings will take place in Wilmington, Middletown, and Dover. The DOE is “requiring” participants to register through a company called Event Brite. Links to register can be found here.
I will stress with all the urgency I can muster that ALL public education parents attend these meetings. Before you go, I would familiarize yourself with the federal law. You can read the full text of the law here. It is a very long law with a lot of repeated jargon and “legalese” in it. The Delaware State Board of Education and Delaware DOE has put up many links to it on their websites, but a lot of that is open to interpretation. As well, U.S. Secretary of Education John King has issued “proposed rulemaking” which are potential regulations. These regulations are VERY controversial. You can read those regulations here and here.
These are my major concerns with ESSA:
By allowing states to have more flexibility, many states have already created long-term plans based on the prior federal mandates. Far too many in our state DOEs follow what the corporate education reformers want and give a false illusion of “stakeholder input”.
The Delaware DOE has given NO indication whatsoever that they will even consider changing the state standards away from Common Core even though they can certainly do this according to ESSA. The US Secretary of Education isn’t required to approve these standards. The states merely have to give an assurance that their standards will follow the law.
Student data still isn’t protected to parents satisfaction. To stop this data from going out, they need to restore the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) to pre-2011 levels
Bouncing off the previous statement, by allowing more social service and health-based practitioners into our schools, there is a serious question regarding what applies to FERPA and what applies to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
John King’s regulations would keep the 95% participation rates for state assessments with consequences for schools and districts.
John King’s Title I regulations would enact a “supplement not supplant” these funds. This is in sharp contrast with federal law and he was called out on this the other day by the US House Education and Workforce Committee.
There is far too much talk of competency-based education through computer adaptive assessments. That is just lingo for personalized learning. This law would allow for classrooms to become online all the time. There are severe dangers with this in regards to the downgrading of the teacher profession, far too much screen time for students, and the quality of the educational material. As well as severe data privacy concerns. In fact, there are incentives for schools to adopt personalized learning.
While the law forbids the US DOE from forcing or coercing states to implement any state standards, like Common Core, many states already have these in place and spent years embedding them into every facet of public education.
The law calls for state accountability “report cards”, based on performance of the state assessment, but the tests are not required to be exactly the same for all students. So the state assessments are not a true measurement since they will be different for each test-taker. Delaware set up their report card last year under the name of the “Delaware School Success Framework” but they inserted a very punitive participation rate penalty if a school dips below the 95% participation rate which can’t use parent opt-out in those calculations according to the law.
State assessments will not be required to have questions at the appropriate grade level for students.
ESSA requires any plan to be submitted to the State DOE, State Board of Education, the Governor and the state legislature. To date, the Delaware DOE has not had “meaningful” consultation with the Delaware General Assembly about ESSA.
The law specifically states that all choice schools should have priority given to the lowest-achieving students, but Delaware allows for charter schools to have enrollment preferences that allow for higher-achieving students to have distinct advantages, especially in our magnet schools and charter schools like Charter School of Wilmington.
I have many other concerns with ESSA, but these ones stand out for me. I am coming at this from the perspective of a parent. I know educators have concerns over some of this as well.