While many advocates were focused on creating state ESSA plans in 2017, a few organizations spent part of the year defending existing accountability systems. As states work to implement and defend their recently approved ESSA accountability systems in 2018, strategies and lessons learned from these initiatives can serve as an example.
Fordham-Ohio Defends State Accountability System
Advocates at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute-Ohio worked to protect their already-strong accountability system during ESSA conversations in the state. When some lawmakers proposed legislation that would have rescinded the state’s standards, Fordham-Ohio made their case loudly and frequently, pointing to current improvements that were driven by the accountability system. They also stressed the need to monitor the progress of all kids, including those students who would be most impacted by changes. Members can read more about their strategy here.
Colorado Advocates Protect School Level Accountability Data
During the 2017 legislative session, advocates in Colorado fought off multiple bills attempting to weaken the state’s assessment and, in turn, accountability system. Colorado Succeeds, in partnership with Democrats for Education Reform-Colorado, Stand for Children-Colorado, READY Colorado, and others, effectively defended the state’s current system while supporting a change to the state’s ninth grade exam from PARCC to the PSAT. In a state with a vocal opt-out movement, advocates hope the change will encourage more students to take the SAT. Additionally, Colorado Succeeds partnered on an op-ed with the Economic Development Agency to articulate the business case for assessments and accountability, which advocates found was especially effective with legislators. Learn more here.
EdAllies Works with Coalition to Preserve School Level Data Disaggregation in Minnesota
Following the passage of a data disaggregation law in 2016, Minnesota advocates were hopeful that the law would provide more transparency into the results of different student groups. However, state Department of Education’s initial implementation directions to the districts were so arduous that many districts began to oppose it. In 2017, EdAllies engaged the state, districts, and a broad coalition of diverse partners to create a compromise approach to keep the policy intact. Members can explore the details here.
SouthCarolinaCAN Fights for School Report Cards
In 2014, South Carolina received a report card waiver from the U.S. Department of Education. When ESSA passed, advocates recognized the need for the state to create a new school report card aligned to the federal requirements as well as the new accountability system. SouthCarolinaCAN surveyed parents and found that nearly one-third preferred an A-F school rating, outpacing the next highest rated option by nine points. While policymakers ultimately rejected the proposed A-F rating system, advocates were relieved to see the overall ESSA accountability plan included student growth for the first time. After a quasi-legislative committee recommended a specific accountability system to the legislature, SouthCarolinaCAN defended the proposed system to legislators. Members can read more about the negotiations here.
To connect with the advocates noted above, please reach out.
This blog is the first in a series highlighting important advocacy work of 2017. All information from this post, plus much more, can be found on the PIE Network MAP, which contains in-depth information about the campaigns and legislative actions of member organizations dating back to 2011. Additionally, each action includes lessons learned, resources, bill language, and contact information.
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