ED releases guidance to states on assessments under ESSA

Last week the US Department of Education (ED) released guidance to Chief State School Officers on assessments under the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The guidance document builds on President Obama's Testing Action Plan released last October, which included a set of principles for encouraging assessments that promote learning and equity, while scaling back on those practices that haven't served students - or educators - well.

Through new assessment flexibility, funding, and a new pilot program under ESSA, states are supported in their implementation of high quality assessments. While the law eliminates federal mandates for test-based teacher evaluation, states are still required to administer an annual assessment of students in grades 3-8 and once in high school in ELA and maths. With release of the guidance, states and districts are offered specific examples of ways to use federal funds to:
    1. Conduct assessment audits to help eliminate low-quality or redundant assessments (outlining that federal dollars may be used to reduce the number and improve the quality of tests);
    2. Facilitate educator professional development on using assessment results to improve instruction;
    3. Increase timeliness and transparency of assessment information for parents and students; and
    4. Improve the quality of assessments, including through replacing low-quality tests with performance assessments.
ED's guidance document may be accessed HERE.
FYI: A link within the cover letter leads to an ED blog highlighting promising practices from states. The John J. Doran Community School in Fall River was highlighted (September 30, 2015) for its approach to addressing non-academic barriers to learning.