ECAA, 2015; Every Child Achieves Act of 2015

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Last week a new education bill was passed in the United States Senate. This bill, called the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECAA, 2015) is a reauthorization of the 1965 original legislation. Most recently, this authorization was called the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB, 2000) and the ECAA, 2015 replaces that bill with new language, updated terms (e.g., evidence; professional development; challenging state standards) and will guide our work in education for years to come. These bills are hard to update as can be seen by the fifteen years in between the last one and the current one.

Core Academic Subjects. For example, there is a new definition for the core, and it has been widened to include all subjects. This would be very helpful for not excluding important subjects and for not narrowing the curriculum in K-12 schools.

(11) CORE ACADEMIC SUBJECTS.—The term

4 ‘core academic subjects’ means English, reading or

5 language arts, writing, science, technology, engineer-

6 ing, mathematics, foreign languages, civics and gov-

7 ernment, economics, arts, history, geography, com-

8 puter science, music, and physical education, and

9 any other subject as determined by the State or local

10 educational agency.’’;

So all courses are included! This is especially helpful to the Arts as it should always be included in core subject considerations.

Professional Development. This now includes very specific updates on what the field thinks of professional development and the best way to improve teacher practice. Note the long list of things that teacher training is now to be held accountable for. It is in many ways much clearer on what is expected and what the field is now ready to do:

15 ‘‘(38) PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT.—The

16 term ‘professional development’ means activities

17 that—

18 ‘‘(A) are coordinated and aligned to sup-

19 port educators (including teachers, principals,

20 other school leaders, specialized instructional

21 support personnel, paraprofessionals, and, as

22 applicable, early childhood educators); and

23 ‘‘(B) are designed and implemented to im-

24 prove student achievement and classroom prac-

25 tice, which may include activities that—

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1 ‘‘(i) improve and increase teachers’—

2 ‘‘(I) knowledge of the academic

3 subjects the teachers teach;

4 ‘‘(II) understanding of how stu-

5 dents learn; and

6 ‘‘(III) ability to analyze student

7 work and achievement from multiple

8 sources, including how to adjust in-

9 structional strategies, assessments,

10 and materials based on such analysis;

11 ‘‘(ii) are an integral part of broad

12 schoolwide and districtwide educational im-

13 provement plans;

14 ‘‘(iii) allow personalized plans for each

15 educator to address the educator’s specific

16 needs identified in observation or other

17 feedback;

18 ‘‘(iv) give teachers, principals, other

19 school leaders, and administrators the

20 knowledge and skills to provide students

21 with the opportunity to meet challenging

22 State academic standards;

23 ‘‘(v) improve classroom management

24 skills;

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1 ‘‘(vi)(I) are high-quality, sustained,

2 intensive, collaborative, job-embedded,

3 data-driven, and classroom-focused in

4 order to have a positive and lasting impact

5 on classroom instruction and the teacher’s

6 performance in the classroom; and

7 ‘‘(II) are not 1-day or short-term

8 workshops or conferences;

9 ‘‘(vii) support the recruiting, hiring,

10 and training of effective teachers, including

11 teachers who became certified through

12 State and local alternative routes to certifi-

13 cation;

14 ‘‘(viii) advance teacher understanding

15 of—

16 ‘‘(I) effective instructional strate-

17 gies that are evidence-based; and

18 ‘‘(II) strategies for improving

19 student academic achievement or sub-

20 stantially increasing the knowledge

21 and teaching skills of teachers;

22 ‘‘(ix) are aligned with and directly re-

23 lated to—

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Job-Embeded is now included in the definition and that is something our research in arts integration has also found is one of the most important parts of improving teacher practice. State standards are now also highlighted:

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1 ‘‘(I) challenging State academic

2 standards and assessments under sec-

3 tion 1111(b);

4 ‘‘(II) the curricula and programs

5 tied to the standards described in sub-

6 clause (I); and

7 ‘‘(III) related academic goals of

8 the school or local educational agency;

9 ‘‘(x) are developed with extensive par-

10 ticipation of teachers, principals, other

11 school leaders, parents, and administrators

12 of schools to be served under this Act;

13 ‘‘(xi) are designed to give teachers of

14 children who are English learners, and

15 other teachers and instructional staff, the

16 knowledge and skills to provide instruction

17 and appropriate language and academic

18 support services to those children, includ-

19 ing the appropriate use of curricula and

20 assessments;

21 ‘‘(xii) to the extent appropriate, pro-

22 vide training for teachers, principals, and

23 other school leaders in the use of tech-

24 nology so that technology and technology

25 applications are effectively used in the

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1 classroom to improve teaching and learning

2 in the curricula and academic subjects in

3 which the teachers teach;

4 ‘‘(xiii) as a whole, are regularly evalu-

5 ated for their impact on increased teacher

6 effectiveness and improved student aca-

7 demic achievement, with the findings of

8 the evaluations used to improve the quality

9 of professional development;

10 ‘‘(xiv) are designed to give teachers of

11 children with disabilities or children with

12 developmental delay, and other teachers

13 and instructional staff, the knowledge and

14 skills to provide instruction and academic

15 support services, to those children, includ-

16 ing positive behavioral interventions and

17 supports, multi-tiered systems of supports,

18 and use of accommodations;

19 ‘‘(xv) include instruction in the use of

20 data and assessments to inform and in-

21 struct classroom practice;

22 ‘‘(xvi) include instruction in ways that

23 teachers, principals, other school leaders,

24 specialized instructional support personnel,

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1 and school administrators may work more

2 effectively with parents and families;

3 ‘‘(xvii) involve the forming of partner-

4 ships with institutions of higher education

5 to establish school-based teacher, principal,

6 and other school leader training programs

7 that provide prospective teachers, novice

8 teachers, principals, and other school lead-

9 ers with an opportunity to work under the

10 guidance of experienced teachers, prin-

11 cipals, other school leaders, and faculty of

12 such institutions;

13 ‘‘(xviii) create programs to enable

14 paraprofessionals (assisting teachers em-

15 ployed by a local educational agency receiv-

16 ing assistance under part A of title I) to

17 obtain the education necessary for those

18 paraprofessionals to become certified and

19 licensed teachers;

20 ‘‘(xix) provide follow-up training to

21 teachers who have participated in activities

22 described in this paragraph that are de-

23 signed to ensure that the knowledge and

24 skills learned by the teachers are imple-

25 mented in the classroom; and

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1 ‘‘(xx) where applicable and practical,

2 provide jointly for school staff and other

3 early childhood education program pro-

4 viders, to address the transition to elemen-

5 tary school, including issues related to

6 school readiness.’’;