Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Opt Out 2018 & ESSA law.

As we head into another year of fighting the misuse of testing in New York State, it is important to understand the Every Student Succeeds Act(ESSA) has replaced No Child Left Behind(NCLB) as the Federal law that greatly impacts education across our nation.  There was a hope that ESSA might bring more local decisions on evaluating schools to the states, but so of that early optimism is fading. 

Here is an important read on how NYSED will be using the ESSA law to deal with Opt Out from my friends at Long Island Opt Out:


I’m going to try to explain this the easiest way possible, since it is very confusing even for those immersed in it. When ESSA was passed, the spirit of it was to give states authority over holding districts accountable. John King tried to change that by adding regulations, Trump removed the regulations, BUT then DeVos has worked to derail opt out and attach consequences for opting out. She rejected our state plan of having opt outs not calculated in for accountability purposes. She wants our calculations to factor in an arbitrary “1” for every missing score. This will essentially make the “list” we send to the feds completely invalid, but that’s what she wants. The Board of Regents knew that that wouldn’t work for our purposes, so they used a loophole which creates a second “list” that will NOT calculate any opt outs as a random “1”. As we’ve always done, opt outs won’t be counted at all. For all of our state rankings, accountability, and decisions about what schools need and which are “failing”, the state will use the REAL calculation of just test takers. Reform lobbyists will of course fight this and appeal to DeVos to not allow us to have a “real” list, but hopefully this is out of Fed control and we will be able to do what makes sense in NY. Summary:
-High opt out districts will NOT be penalized for low participation.
-Opt out districts will not lose money, drop in rankings, or be put on any “failing” list (unless they are failing for reasons other than participation rates)
-Individual opt out students will NOT be scored a 1. That “1” is only used for district wide federal accountability, not for the individual student.
- SED may still require districts with high opt outs to come up with a “plan” to increase participation (and I kind of giggle when I think of what those “plans” would look like. I’m sure begging would be involved) It does seem, however, that SED will focus on districts where certain cohorts (special ed or ELL) Opt Out is greater numbers, showing “institutional exclusion” (purposely getting certain kids to refuse to increase scores)