The purpose of this notification is to call to your attention some federal guidelines that impact public schools across the country. As you may already be aware, the K-12 education law known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has been replaced with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). There are many similarities between the two laws; both require that all students have access to rigorous standards, that at least 95% of students take part in high quality assessments of the standards, and that each district report to the public their assessment outcomes. Each state was required to create and submit a plan for accountability and support of ESSA. This past year Iowa’s plan was approved by the Federal Department of Education.
In the next few weeks, the Iowa Department of Education will be releasing Iowa School Performance Profiles. These profiles reflect the core measures that contribute to a school’s accountability determination under ESSA. The determinations will be based on the following measures:
Student participation on state assessments, academic achievement (proficiency and average scale score), student growth, graduation rate, progress in achieving English language proficiency, and a student survey of safety and engagement (Conditions for Learning).
Each school will receive an overall score based on performance on these measures. Schools will also receive a score for each subgroup of students, such as students who have an individualized education plan.
It has been predicted that approximately 300 Iowa districts will have one or more buildings designated as Targeted or Comprehensive. One of the major differences between NCLB and ESSA is that ESSA designations are not intended to be punitive in nature. Funding will not be taken away and educators will not be forced to change buildings; instead, there will be funding to provide support for studying practices, planning for change, and engaging in professional learning.
While nobody delights in being “identified” as needing support, our stance is that this can be a valuable part of on-going school improvement. We know that our district is fortunate to have educators who are very committed to doing what is best for students and are continually striving to do better. Looking at our performance data in a variety of ways will help us identify areas for improvement; so, regardless of any designated label our schools may or may not receive, our intention is to use our data to help make decisions that support effective practices and promote student success.
A fact sheet supplied by the Iowa Department of Education accompanies this notification. As we learn more about our designation, we will of course share that information with the community.