Of all the revisions implemented by the Every Student Succeeds Act (or “ESSA”) arguably the most impactful are the school accountability system changes. In previous years the No Child Left Behind Act (or “NCLB”) centralized the authority for development of school accountability measures within the Federal government; all but ignoring state based contributions to said standards. The ESSA seeks to restore a state’s autonomy (to a degree) by placing the responsibility and authority for the development of school accountability standards directly with the states. What this means for the State of Arizona is that schools should expect sweeping changes on how educational effectiveness is measured and a wholescale revision of the accountability philosophy.
For example, under the provisions of the NCLB student attendance was considered a measure of student success. The target attendance rate was Ninety-Five percent (95%), which most schools met. While student attendance is a component of student educational success, it is arguably a dubious measure of school educational effectiveness. The ESSA, in its philosophical move from the NCLB standards, directs states to develop alternative measures of student success which better differentiate between schools and therefore grant a more complete picture of school educational effectiveness.
It is also worthy of note that the ESSA revises the methodology under which English Language Proficiency is included in school accountability measures. The NCLB relegated English Language Proficiency to a standalone school accountability piece. Under the ESSA, English Language Proficiency is included as a part of the standard school accountability system.
As the states are now charged with the development of school accountability standards State of Arizona school districts will need to turn to the State of Arizona Department of Education for direction. State of Arizona school districts can access information regarding the steps the State of Arizona Department of Education is taking to implement the provisions required by the ESSA by clicking on the following link:
The State of Arizona Department of Education website provides that the state’s plan will be prepared beginning in July of 2016 through September of 2016. Once the plan is developed, that plan will be submitted to the public for comment during the months of October and November of 2016. After the public comment period elapses, the State of Arizona Department of Education will finalize the plan during December of 2016 through January of 2017. This finalization process will take into account the comments submitted by the public during the October and November comment period.
As a part of the finalization process, the State of Arizona Department of Education will submit the plan to the Governor and the State of Arizona Board of Education for final approval. Once the plan is finalized, the State of Arizona Department of Education will submit the plan to the United States Department of Education.
It is important to note that the comment period afforded the public is a critical opportunity for schools as well as members of the general public to comment and influence the outcome of the plan development process. Schools or members of the general public with issues relevant to the discussion of formulating a school accountability system are strongly encouraged to engage in the discussion as any additional constructive input may aid in improving the resulting plan.
As always it is important for schools to resolve questions and conflicts with the appropriate legal counsel. If a school has a question or a concern with regards to the implementation of any part of the ESSA, including but not limited to the development of school accountability standards, then that school would be best served by contacting its attorney. It may also be in the best interest of the school to contact its attorney for assistance in submitting comments to the State of Arizona Department of Education regarding the ESSA development process. A school’s input on the development of ESSA accountability standards is invaluable and the limited window to contribute has already begun to close.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding School Accountability System Changes, or any other estate planning matters, please feel free to contact at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.