Chalkboard Project stands ready to support our state education leaders as they prepare to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—legislation that reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Passage of the new law presents opportunities and challenges for our state as accountability for equitable educational opportunities shifts from the federal government to states.
We urge the state to move forward with a thoughtful process, and a sound system of implementation and accountability, building on what we’ve already accomplished. The new law requires states to use data and evidence to drive change and ensure our limited resources are used wisely. We must protect what is working and avoid discarding promising practices with proven results. From efforts on the ground to implementation of our statewide teacher evaluation system, we have made important strides to strengthen accountability and teacher effectiveness, and accelerate student achievement. As we continue to improve our education systems, we must continue to harness the talent and expertise of our teachers to design a framework that holds our education system accountable while setting high expectations for teachers, principals, and students.
Equitable educational opportunities have always been at the core of ESEA and remain a high priority under the new law. For many, the federal law is a civil rights bill designed to ensure all children in our nation have access to high-quality education. The bill continues to hold states accountable for its most vulnerable students and requires states to intervene in chronically low-performing schools and schools that are not closing the achievement gap. As the federal government relinquishes some of its oversight in this area, it is imperative we put in place effective state policies to support and enforce these requirements.
Just as the one-size-fits-all approach did not work under No Child Left Behind, we must work toward establishing accountability systems in ways that make sense in our local context. We are encouraged by Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor’s announcement that he will take the necessary time to engage all stakeholders: to recognize that varying needs across communities, schools, and districts and design sensible approaches while keeping strong accountability guide rails in place.