The U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Evaluation (NCEE) is looking for proposals from vendors to complete an evaluation for two programs authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) — the Innovative Assessment and Accountability Authority (IADA) and the Flexibility for Equitable Per-Pupil Funding. The evaluations will be focusing on describing implementations in pilot sites, challenges faced and approaches to mitigating challenges. This request for information is to conduct market research on whether there are sufficient interest capabilities from vendors to conduct these evaluations. Responses to the RFI were due on January 18.
The Indiana Department of Education is proposing a change to the state's ESSA plan by removing A-F ratings for federal accountability and replacing them with four classification groups: exceeding, meeting, approaching, or not meeting expectations, to help clear up confusion about how schools are doing in the different accountability arenas.
ESSA requires states to identify schools that are in need of improvement and those where vulnerable groups of students are struggling. Under accountability regulations written by the Obama administration, states were supposed to publish this data by Dec. 31, 2018 but those regulations were scrapped by Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration in early 2017. The Trump administration's November 2018 ESSA "parent guide" has a section on report cards, but makes no mention of a date for them to be released.
According to a December message from federal officials to the Georgia Department of Education, state officials who are thinking about applying for ESSA’s Innovative Assessment pilot program “don’t have to pick just one exam for your test drive—but you do have to end up with a single test in the end.” The news that more than one test is allowed in the initial phases of the pilot “is a potential game-changer for states who want in on the pilot but haven’t settled on an assessment for every district to use.” However, it is unclear if this approach adheres to existing ESSA regulations on piloting a single innovative assessment system.
States had to choose at least one indicator of school quality or student success to consider alongside test scores in gauging school performance. At least five states decided to use the arts—either access to classes or some other indicator—to fulfill this requirement.