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Vol.3: Every Student Succeeds Act: Guiding Principles

Policy News Update

Every Student Succeeds Act: Guiding Principles


As the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) prepares for the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), we have identified a set of principles to guide our recommendations to both the State and Federal Department of Education.
As the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) prepares for the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), we have identified a set of principles to guide our recommendations to both the State and Federal Departments of Education.

It is our hope that these 5 principles can be used to guide decision making around the major provisions in ESSA.

1. ESSA should not be a re implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) under a different name.


NCLB created an accountability system that set unreasonable growth-targets for schools. It did not reward schools for making meaningful improvements but instead ensured winners and losers through the way measures were calculated. ESSA is our opportunity to re-focus on the challenges NCLB aimed to tackle, but to do so in a way that encourages innovation and improvement in our schools.

2. ESSA should create clarity and transparency around what matters in K-12 education for students, parents and educators.

Using data to drive improvements in student and school performance is something CMSD strongly supports. However, in order for data to be high leverage for all stakeholders, both those in schools and those in the community must able to easily understand school performance metrics. It also means that all educators should clearly understand what measures are used to evaluate them and have a clear pathway for how to improve on these measures.

3. ESSA should use measures that reflect and encourage the efforts of and improvements in schools.

It is the mission of all educators to prepare students for productive lives. This means accountability measures need to recognize the significant challenges faced by urban school districts. As all stakeholders work to improve the outcomes of our students, accountability measures should acknowledge the real work and efforts of schools that are improving students' outcomes, in addition to focusing on the attainment of standards. These systems should provide stable targets and should not force winners and losers, where in the past with NCLB by nature of the measure, some schools must receive an F. Instead, the accountability systems under ESSA should create standards that will incentivize movement toward reaching high standards and which allow all schools to receive high grades if they meet a certain performance level.

4. ESSA should facilitate more support for local school districts.

The State Of Ohio's Department of Education plays an important role in helping districts improve. However, local context is incredibly important to Cleveland's turnaround efforts. Specifically, the Cleveland Plan legislation already offers a road map for educational reform. CMSD practitioners and educators who are accountable for local turnaround efforts should be given the opportunities to lead these efforts with support not prescriptive plans from the state educational agencies.

5. ESSA should institute rules that are best for students, not just adults.


In implementing this law, policymakers, educators and other stakeholders must be cognizant of the impact it will have on a generation of children. This law will greatly define a child's educational experience. Therefore CMSD believes that this law needs to be implemented in a way that puts students first, even if it comes at the cost of more complicated procedures and/or greater accountability for adults.

Cleveland School leaders will continue to work on the ESSA regulations and state plan using the lens of these guiding principles. The Ohio Department of Education will be holding a stakeholder meeting on ESSA at 6pm Monday, September 19 at Tri-C Jerry Sue Thornton Center 2500 East 22nd Street. To register, follow this link to the ODE website:

http://education.ohio.gov/Topics?Every-Student-Succeeds-Act-ESSA