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Secret Weapon for ESSA Transparency
Call it a head start. Maybe a cheat sheet. Better yet, an accelerator. Yes, call it an accelerator!
Let me guess, your email and social media is bombarded with information, perspectives, concerns, and challenges related to state-level implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
There are big questions about standards, accountability, funding, spending, and, of course, the transparency thereof.
Our friends at the Center for Reinventing Public Education recently asked—and answered—this important question: What’s at Stake in the Ongoing Fight About School Spending Comparability?
Here is the good news. America Succeeds was looking around the corner and getting ahead on this issue several months ago. We think the new Colorado policy, crafted and championed by Colorado Succeeds, is a great roadmap for other states, so we used it as a case study and provide the detailed rundown in our Pulling Back the Curtain report.
In this report, we chronicle the evolution and enactment of signature education policy that unveils how money is being spent at every public school in Colorado. It requires the information be published on an easy-to-access, user-friendly website for full, free utilization by the public.
The measure provides unprecedented access to school-level financial data, such as line item budgets and expenditures. By overlaying this new level of financial detail with other data—like academic performance and staffing—we can finally see how effectively and fairly schools are, or are not, utilizing their available resources.
In line with the new requirements and opportunities of ESSA, Pulling Back the Curtain encourages states to smartly systematize the publication of this important information, and, conveniently, serves as a powerful guide and tool for states and advocacy groups on how best to do it.
While the politics vary from place to place, the principal need for transparency and accountability in school funding, spending, and performance is universal.
-America Succeeds Team
It Pays to Improve School Quality
This week’s release of It Pays to Improve School Quality, a report by Eric Hanushek, shows that by adopting and implementing aggressive education reforms now, and raising student achievement significantly over the next 10 years, states can realize tens of billions of dollars in increased GDP over the next several decades.
It punctuates the point America Succeeds and our affiliates have been making all along: “great schools are good business.” Hanushek is singing our song when he says: “Realizing these gains will require a sustained commitment on the part of the state’s political leaders.”
Replete with compelling data and economic projections, the report features specific information for each state. There’s an interactive map that that allows you to select the state, then choose how ambitious you want the student performance improvements to be, and it calculates the resultant economic benefit.
For respective states, the increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is in the billions. For the nation, it is in the trillions.
Read the report and use the interactive map here: It Pays to Improve School Quality
3 Keys to School Accountability
by Eric Lerum
The Elementary & Secondary Education Act of 2015 (ESSA) presents a tremendous opportunity for states to retool their school accountability frameworks to be more flexible and to reflect a broader definition of what it means for a school to be successful for students and parents. It’s also critical, however, that states hold a high bar for success that is predicated primarily on student outcomes. Business leaders should be at the front of the conversation, ensuring that state leaders strike the right balance. As future employers, business leaders know firsthand that schools must prepare graduates with the skills and knowledge to be successful in today’s workforce and the creativity and curiosity to imagine the industries of tomorrow.
America Succeeds has been paying close attention to this issue and recently participated in a design competition sponsored by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute focused on new frameworks for accountability under ESSA. While there are many ways to design an accountability system and no single model will fit every state, we believe three guiding principles will position business leaders to contribute to the discussion in their states: (more…)
Idaho Working Toward “Go-On” Goal
This story in The Spokesman-Review highlights Idaho’s efforts to get at least 60% of high school graduates to go on to college:
Rod Gramer, head of Idaho Business for Education, said research shows that by 2020, 60 to 70 percent of the jobs in Idaho will require a post-secondary degree or certificate, and we’re not there. “The need for our employers is real – we need an educated workforce,” Gramer said. “Not achieving this goal has serious ramifications for our business community.”
America Succeeds Expands Team
For Immediate Release
America Succeeds is excited to announce the addition of two new team members. Eric Lerum, formerly Vice President of National Policy at StudentsFirst, is joining our team as Vice President of Growth & Strategy. As the organization continues to improve and expand our mission, Eric will play a critical role in both managing our growth into new states and improving quality and effectiveness with our current affiliates.
Also, Lauren Cole is a recent graduate of Cornell University and will serve as Project Director to support the home office and all affiliates.
These additions to the team set us on course to meet and exceed our ambitious goals and strategies for turning business leaders into education champions to ensure all students have the opportunity to succeed in a competitive global economy.
Staying the Course on Higher Standards
In Colorado, the first round of Common Core-aligned test scores are in, and Colorado Succeeds has some important perspective to offer. Having implemented higher standards for students at every grade level, it is not at all surprising that scores were underwhelming on the new and more rigorous test. The good news is that we are now aware of, and honestly reporting, true proficiency levels, which are troubling, and which were masked by the score inflation of the previous state test. In this blog post and video, Colorado Succeeds explains why the new tests are critical to providing students what they need and deserve from our schools.
Sense Vs. Nonsense
From the Desk of Tim Taylor:
This is a worthy read—a rant and lots of colorful comments on one of the blogs I follow. It addresses a question I have not been able to answer – until now. If Common Core is really just about standards, not curriculum, why are so many parents lamenting about the way their kids are learning math? The example here focuses on the “base-ten system” and, like any standard, there are multiple ways to teach it. But because it is a new standard, any curriculum will likely be new to parents. This is the story of a nonsensical argument against the Common Core, and the effective and entertaining response it inspired. As you’ll see, it’s not the way kids learned math decades ago, but turns out the base-ten system actually makes a whole lot of sense.