ESSA Transition: What Authorizers Need to Know About the Impact on State Accountability Systems

Editor’s note: The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a big deal for authorizers. NACSA wants to help make sure your office is prepared to manage the implementation while balancing your responsibilities as an authorizerMake our new ESSA for Authorizers page your new go-to site for updates and resources aimed at supporting your work during this transition.

On December 18, 2015 the US Department of Education issued a “Dear Colleague Letter On the Transition to ESSA”. The letter provides initial guidance to States on the transition to the new federal education law, including several immediate impacts on state accountability systems and the associated reporting of annual district, school, and student performance data.

What Authorizers Need to Know

  • You may not have access to some academic performance data for the 14/15 and 15/16 school years.
  • The Priority and Focus School Lists in your state—which identify the bottom five percent and 10 percent of schools—will be impacted by decisions your state must make by January 29, 2016.

What Authorizers Can Do Now

  • Ask your office-or-state data officer which state report card measures will be impacted. Which state report card pieces make reference to the state’s Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO)? That is the official metric being impacted, which is often part of a state growth goal or a sub-group goal. Even though the state is not required to report on the AMO metric specifically, will the state report on or otherwise release the impacted state report card metric anyway? Identifying those impacted metrics, and getting a jump on what your State is planning to do about it, will help you plan for any data gaps.
    • Start thinking about how you will adapt. You don’t need an answer today or this month, or possibly even this school year, but start thinking about the decisions you will have to make in the next two years that may be effected by this data change. Identifying the impact will help us all come up with solutions. NACSA will be here to help every step of the way.
  • Ask yourself: Does the identification of a charter school on the Priority or Focus list trigger any actions for me or the school, such as the consideration of a school for closure or probation? Is that action mandatory (i.e., required by law) or discretionary (i.e., an internal or voluntary policy)?
    • If it has a significant impact on a mandatory action, consider speaking with your SEA or your office Government Affairs liaison to notify them of this effect. This will notify the State of the impact this decision could have on charter school oversight and will help the State better plan for this change.

Want to know more details about what, specifically, is happening?  Check out our additional commentary post on the Why and What of the 12-18-15 Dear Colleague Letter.