This Week’s ESSA News: Georgia Asks For 2021 Testing Waiver, Virginia Unveils New Teacher Retention Program, Growing ‘COVID Slide’ Concerns For English Learners & More

This Week’s ESSA News: Georgia Asks for 2021 Testing Waiver, Virginia Unveils New Teacher Retention Program, Growing ‘COVID Slide’ Concerns for English Learners & More

This update provides information on the current status of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the education plans being implemented by states and school districts. It is a collaborative effort with ESSA Essentials, a series by the Collaborative for Student Success. ESSA Essentials is an offshoot of their ESSA Advance newsletter, which you can subscribe to here. (You can find our previous ESSA updates from past weeks here.)

In late June, Georgia became the first state to announce its intention to request a federal testing waiver for the 2020-21 academic year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

State leaders are seeking feedback on the ESSA waiver, which would eliminate high-stakes testing for the upcoming school year. This decision is a response to the challenges posed by COVID-19. The survey seeking feedback will be open until Friday, July 10, and can be accessed through the Twitter accounts of the Georgia Department of Education and Governor Kemp.

This announcement follows Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s approval of a one-year waiver that suspended federally mandated testing for the 2019-20 school year. This waiver was granted when schools across the country closed due to the pandemic and had to switch to remote learning for several months.

The public feedback period for the ESSA waiver request has now closed. According to the Every Student Succeeds Act, states are required to administer annual tests to students in grades 3-8 as well as once in high school to ensure accountability measures are met.

Here are the key headlines for the week on how states are implementing and innovating under ESSA:

Virginia has announced a new program aimed at retaining newer teachers. In collaboration with the James Madison University College of Education, the Virginia Department of Education has established the Virginia New Teacher Support Program. This program matches first- and second-year teachers with instructional coaches who provide guidance on various aspects of teaching. The program is funded by a $200,000 grant from Title II ESSA Funds and aims to support approximately 500 teachers in the 2020-21 school year, helping them increase their effectiveness and remain in the classroom.

The Alabama State Department of Education has released a new strategic plan outlining measurable goals for improving student achievement. The plan focuses on areas such as academic growth and achievement, college, career, and workforce readiness, safe and supportive learning environments, highly effective educators, and customer-friendly services. The development of this plan, which aligns with Alabama’s ESSA improvement efforts, took 15 months of collaborative work.

A policy brief from the Migration Policy Institute explores the use of native-language assessments to measure the learning loss experienced by English learners during the COVID-19 pandemic. Educators have expressed concerns about the "COVID slide" and its impact on the more than 5 million English learners in K-12 schools. Native-language assessments may offer a more accurate measure of student knowledge and help identify gaps in English-language instruction. While ESSA encourages states to develop assessments in students’ first languages, it does not mandate the use of native-language assessments.

School leaders and policymakers are examining existing policies to address the budget cuts faced in the wake of COVID-19. Celina Morgan-Standard, founder and CEO of the Technology for Education Consortium, and David DeSchryver, director of research at Whiteboard Advisors, discuss potential strategies in an article on EdSurge. They highlight the need for creative solutions as schools grapple with the financial challenges of reopening.

Please note that the information provided is based on the original text and has been rewritten in a manner that reflects natural language and improves readability while maintaining the main points of each topic.

— EdSurge (@EdSurge) June 24, 2020

Relying on estimations provided by the associations of superintendents, the Learning Policy Institute, and the American Federation of Teachers, which suggest that the cost of reopening all public schools exceeds $116.5 billion, Morgan-Standard and DeSchryver delve into EdTech initiatives, strategies to support parents and families in educational engagement, tools that promote price transparency for educational products, and enhancing the transparency of expenditures (which is one of the few ESSA requirements that has not been recently waived by the federal Department of Education).

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  • axellancaster

    Axel Lancaster is a 53-year-old blogger who specializes in education-related topics. He has been blogging for over a decade and has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with his readers. Axel is a highly respected authority on the subject of education and is regularly quoted in the media. He is also a sought-after speaker and has given presentations at numerous conferences and events.