Regulations to Create Better, Fairer, and Fewer Assessments

  • Use Arts Integration to Comply with New ESSA Regulations

    In the Every Student Succeeds Act, (ESSA), a new version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, ESEA, the civil rights era law has been updated. The ESSA law final regulations specifically address the original law’s purpose to provide all children with a quality education:

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    “We are changing these regulations to provide clarity and support to State educational agencies (SEAs), LEAs, and schools as they implement the ESEA requirements regarding statewide assessment systems, and to ensure that key requirements in title I of the ESEA are implemented in a manner consistent with the purposes of the law–“to provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps.” (Unite States Legislature, 2016 #436)

  • So why not use innovative approaches to measuring student achievement like assessments in arts integration acquisition of skill sets embedded in arts standards and assessments and help comply with the new law? Since arts integration increases student learning and helps students reveal their thinking, use of arts integration assessment might help students receive a fair and equitable education.
  • In Whiteboard Advisors’ weekly notes of December 8, 2016, a full explanation of the new law’s regulations around assessment are talked about and portions of the Whitehouse press release around this are provided below:
  • “Regulations to Create Better, Fairer, and Fewer Assessments under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA):  The Department of Education is releasing two final regulations designed to give states and school districts clarity and flexibility as they implement the assessment provisions under Title I of the ESSA.  These regulations seek to clarify the statutory requirement that states administer high-quality, annual assessments to all students by ensuring that these assessments are worth taking and provide meaningful data about student success and equity for all students, while also encouraging states and districts to continue to push the field of assessment forward through innovation.”
    • “Creating Better, Fairer, and Fewer TestsThe final regulation for state assessment systems under Title I, Part A — which are the result of consensus reached when the Department of Education conducted negotiated rulemaking with a diverse group of stakeholders earlier this year — will ensure states continue to administer tests that are valid, reliable, and fair measures of student achievement for all students, including by setting clear parameters for meaningfully including students with disabilities and English language learners in state tests and supporting them with appropriate test accommodations.  The final regulation also allows states to take advantage of a range of innovative approaches to improve assessment and reduce overall burden, such as implementing computer-adaptive assessments and allowing a district to offer a locally selected, nationally recognized high school tests in place of the annual statewide high school assessment.  Taken together, this regulation will help states and districts implement ESSA to create better, fairer and fewer tests.”
    • ​”Producing a New Generation of Innovative Assessments:  The final regulation under Title I, Part B establishes the parameters under which states may take advantage of a new innovative assessment demonstration authority under the ESSA to create, try out, and scale up alternatives to traditional end-of-year large-scale assessments.  This demonstration authority, initially available to up to seven states, allows states to rethink assessment systems and pilot new, innovative approaches to measuring student achievement for use in their accountability systems.  States with demonstration authority will be allowed to phase-in and use a new innovative assessment system in a subset of their districts, while maintaining their existing system in the rest of their districts, and use the results from both systems for accountability and reporting purposes under the law during the pilot phase.  States may also apply for flexibility as a consortium, providing a built-in community of practice to share and work through common challenges as they scale their new innovative assessments statewide.”
  • “Guidance to States on How to Use Federal Resources to Create Better, Fairer and Fewer Tests:  The Department of Education is also releasing non-regulatory guidance for states and school districts, which highlights flexibility in ESSA for how states and districts can use federal funds to support the President’s Testing Action Plan. The guidance outlines how states and districts can use federal funding under the ESSA to ensure high-quality assessments for all students; reduce testing time; eliminate redundant, duplicative assessment; and provide clear, transparent and actionable information on assessments to students, families, and educators.  This ESSA guidance applies starting in fiscal year 2017 (i.e., the 2017-2018 school year) and updates previous guidance ED released earlier this year.”
  • “Profiles of Districts that are Taking Action to Improve Assessments:  The Department of Education is releasing profiles highlighting the steps taken by two districts, Eminence Independent Schools (KY) and Vancouver Public Schools (WA), to reduce and improve assessments. Eminence saw dramatic improvements in student achievement after implementing a learner-centric education model that focuses on differentiated instruction, personalized learning, continuous growth, and the use of formative assessments and alternative means to assess student progress.  Vancouver Public Schools conducted an audit of its district-required assessments in 2015 and eliminated 105 administrations of district-required assessments allowing the district to return an average of 900 minutes back into the classroom across grades 3 – 8. These profiles build on a report the Department released in April, highlighting the work of leading states and districts to improve assessment and ensure class time is preserved. “(https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/12/07/fact-sheet-white-house-announces-new-steps-create-better-fairer-and)