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Week 2: July 3 - July 9 Discussion Forum II Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

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Discussion Forum II
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Student's Sense of Belonging Standardized Testing

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Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

by Peterson, Dawn - Thursday, July 6, 2017, 7:25 PM

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

ESSA replaces the now outdated No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 and shifts the power from Federal to
State and local districts for decisions on their educational choices. The following is a brief rundown of
the basic concepts that come with ESSA as laid out by The74th (2016).

ESSA reduces Washingtons authority over school decisions and gives it back to the states and
local districts.

States must still give standardized tests every year and report the results, including for specific
groups like ELL.

ESSA requires states to have challenging academic standards but Washington cannot dictate
what those standards are.

School accountability systems must now include a non-academic measure like chronic
absenteeism in addition to statistics like test scores and graduations rates.

ESSA requires states to intervene in the lowest-performing schools.

ESSA becomes effective this next school year (2017-2018) and states are working on drafting their
proposals, holding public comment periods and then submitting their proposals to the Federal
Department of Education by the deadline of September 18, 2017 At this time, 17 states have submitted
their proposals and received approval, while the others are working through the required process
(Honaker, 2017, para. 7).

Georgias proposal caught my interest while I was perusing for education news. The headline
stated Georgia shifts from high-stakes student testing of new education plan, followed by the first line
stating Georgia wants to put service and support at the center of education (Honaker, 2017). What did
they mean by service and support?

According to the article, Rickman, policy director for the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in
Education stated that Georgia wanted to move away from the high-stakes, end-of-the-year testing that
only looked at if students pass or failed (as cited by Honaker, 2017, para. 13) rather than how much
students are learning over time.

Although Georgia plans to move away from high-stakes testing, ESSA still mandates these tests,
so how Georgia will respond and change their use of these tests will be interesting to watch. When
holding area feedback forums on the area of assessment, the following is what Georgians had to say:

1. Tests should be used to inform, rather than drive instruction.

2. Testing is important, but currently there is too much focus on testing outcomes for students
at the detriment of educating the whole child.
3. State assessments have limited uses due to their summa ve nature and the me of year they
are administered.
4. Formative assessments, taken throughout the school year, are needed to provide teachers
with more timely information to inform instruction.
5. Additional flexibility is needed regarding how assessments are administered.
6. It is powerful what we report. It is important to think through how success and failure are
7. Assessment reports need to be easier to understand and provided in a more timely manner
(Georgia Department of Education, 2017a).

There are many in the education field that believe that tests like these create a large downside to the
quality of education over all. The question of whether high-stakes testing affects curriculum has been
highly contested in the field of educational research (Au, 2013). Eisner (2013) states that one
consequence of our approach to reform is that the curriculum gets narrowed as school district policies
make it clear that what is to be tested is what is to be taught. Tests come to define our priorities
(Eisner, 2013).

Another area of interest on Georgias proposal is found on Georgias Department of Education YouTube
site. In their effort to get the information out, they shared five videos to explain their goals found in the
proposal. One of which states their goal is to focus on educating the whole child because they
recognize that not all children learn the same (Georgia Department of Education, 2017c). Georgias
Education of the Whole Child work group took the time to hold eight feedback sessions around the state
to get the input from community members, business and industry, parents, teachers and students. Here is
what Georgians said they were concerned about:

1. Current education system over-values English and mathematics academic outcomes to the
detriment of access to additional opportunities (i.e. Fine Arts, CTAE).
2. Childrens physical health and emotional well-being are directly related to their academic
3. Students do not have adequate access to counseling, diagnostic testing, psychological
services, and school health services.
4. Schools are not equipped to provide all of the necessary wrap- around services; need to
engage community partners.
5. Not enough professional learning around school climate or child development.
6. Not enough support for media centers and library services.
7. Expenditures of federal funds are too narrowly focused (Georgia Department of Education,

We see from this list that parents are concerned by the narrowing of curriculum that is considered by
many as a result of high-stake testing. Georgias answer to these concerns has resulted in the following
areas of focus: personalized-learning, literacy, strong foundation in early grades, media centers and
libraries, well-being, arts, languages, health and P.E., school climate, expanding educational
opportunities, well-rounded education, and preparing students for life (Georgia Department of
Education, 2017b).

It was interesting to read this proposal having just read the chapter School Vision (Senge et al., 2012).
According to the authors, it is imperative to get the local stakeholders involved. Their ability to share
their dream and aspirations for the education of their local students that speaks to the needs in their
specific community is an important part in making long term change and sustainability of a learning
environment possible (p. 341). It is a multi-step process and can take time to work through. They list
three separate but interconnected purposes; addressing the tensions over unrealized expectations from
previous concerns, the ability to share their desires for their children and community, and the process
must lead to action (p. 342). Creating a shared vision allows the community members buy in and then
feel ownership of this new plan (Senge, 2011, p. 104).

Is it possible that Georgia was attempting to build a new shared vision, or were they only going through
the motions? While this proposal may sound good and use many of the correct verbiage, I am
concerned that the reality may not live up to the desired expectations. Will we see business as usual or
will there be a distinct change in Georgias approach to education? Will Georgias leverage of federal
funds actually bring better educational opportunities to the student? Only time will tell. I can tell you
that I for one will be following the news to see how Georgia remains accountable to this new plan for
the future.

Au, W. (2013). High-Stakes testing and curriculum control: A qualitative metasynthesis. In D. J. Flinders &
S. J. Thornton (Eds.), The curriculum studies reader (Fourth ed., pp. 235-252). New York, New York:

Eisner, E. W. (2013). What does it mean to say a school is doing well. In D. J. Flinders & S. J. Thornton
(Eds.), The curruculm studies reader (Fourth ed., pp. 279-288). New York, New York: Routledge.

Georgia Department of Education. (2017a). Assessment. Retrieved from

Georgia Department of Education. (2017b). Education of the whole child. Retrieved from

Georgia Department of Education (Writer). (2017c). Georgias ESSA plan: YouTube

Honaker, A. (2017, July 3, 2017). Shift from high-stakes student testing part of new education plan,
Education. The Telegraph. Retrieved from

Senge, P. M. (2011). The leaders new work: Building learning organizations. In J. S. Osland & M. E. Turner
(Eds.), The organizational behavior reader (Ninth ed., pp. 96-115). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Senge, P. M., Cambron-McCabe, N., Lucas, T., Smith, B., Dutton, J., & Kleiner, A. (2012). Schools that learn: A
fifth discipline fieldbook for educators, parents, and everyone who cares about education [Kindle version].
(pp. 584). Retrieved from

The 74 (Writer). (2016). The every student succeeds act: 5 things you need to know [YouTube Video].

The Every Student Succeeds Act: 5 Things Y

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Re: Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

by McKenna, Bevan - Thursday, July 6, 2017, 11:01 PM
Thank you for sharing about ESSA, particularly as it relates to Georgia. I mentioned it in my own
contribution to this forum. I await its roll-out in the upcoming school year to see how it will actually
function. It brings to mind our response (or lack thereof) as an SDA learning organization to ESSA.
Have we decided what parts of ESSA we will adopt or adapt? Is this a decision we would want to
make or have thought of making? Are we considering how Journey to Excellence aligns with this act,
or whether it exceeds it and how? I wonder if this is something that might have to happen in our
local schools, whether our principals and boards would empower us to investigate these, and what
roles will we give our parents and student advisory groups in this change process?

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Re: Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

by Francis, Carolyn - Sunday, July 9, 2017, 5:40 AM

Happy belated birthday, Dawn!

I am impressed with the response by the state of Georgia on the ESSA. I believe that they are on the
right track in realizing that high-stakes testing narrows the curriculum and impedes the education of
the whole child. They are bravely making efforts to correct this by having community forums that
will give them much needed information and input from parents, teachers and students,community
members,business and industry. I believe that they are on the right track by taking this approach.
Although they are still expected to do high-stakes testing, they recognize the importance of having
their stakeholders play a vital role in the planning phase of this implementation. Buy in is vital for
implementation to be effective. I anxiously await the final outcomes.

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Re: Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

by Peterson, Dawn - Sunday, July 9, 2017, 11:15 AM


I agree with you. I will be curious to see how this rolls out and if they are truly desiring change or
whether is is just written in language that people recognize as progressive and innovative. If I
should skeptical, it's because I am, but I'm also hopeful for the children and parents in that state!

I didn't look up other states to see what they are saying and implementing. It might be
interesting to see who the states compare in the proposals and direction.

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Re: Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

by Cristian, Noemilia - Sunday, July 9, 2017, 6:46 PM

I would like to know how this will affect private schools. In my school we take the IOWA test in
September. I don't think it reflects well what students know because they are just coming back from
summer vacation and if they didn't do any academic work over the summer they regress. In addition
they are being tested on a grade that they haven't completed yet. That is why my school is thinking
about transitioning to taking the test twice, at the beginning and at the end of the year. It will cost
us more money though.

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Re: Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

by McKenna, Bevan - Thursday, July 13, 2017, 9:22 AM

As with NCLB, we would be bound to ESSA in some form or fashion. Exactly how is left to be seen.
We could come in for scrutiny if we do not; how, I cannot yet describe. I think we should look into
how our states interpret this act and extrapolate from it what already applies to us as well as
what we can put in for growth and change. I know the ITBS is used in some schools, as in yours
and mine (even though we also use the state standardized tests of New York); however, like I said,
the parameters of this new policy, as well as implications would still impact us to some degree. It
would be interesting to find out how.

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Re: Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

by Clements, Kalicia - Thursday, July 13, 2017, 3:45 PM

This was the same question I had throughout my read of this discussion post. I am interested to
learn the outcomes of Georgias goals and how it relates to our schools, especially in Georgia
through these initial phases. At least in our Michigan Adventist schools, standardized testing
isnt as much of a priority, being that we only take one standardized test per year in the fall, the
IOWA test. Are we already at the forefront of these changes by not prioritizing the test as

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Student's Sense of Belonging Standardized Testing

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