With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Federal Government has given each state the ability to forge its own educational path. This path includes authoring a plan for measuring accountability and student achievement and growth. In previous years, accountability was measured in the form of student scores on standardized tests. Studies have shown that this is a poor method for evaluating public education, and HB978/SB871, the Protect Our Schools Act of 2017, is intended to correct this mistake, and implement accountability measures and intervention strategies that have been proven to get results.
Under ESSA, each state is allowed to include new measurements, beyond merely scores on a standardized test, for school success into their plan. Other indicators that have been shown to improve test scores—like smaller class sizes or access to quality pre-kindergarten programs—can be included in the accountability system as an “opportunity” indicator as well. Each of the indicators should, however, 1) have the same weight (so that school administration does not concentrate on one indicator to the detriment of another, 2) give “opportunity” indicators as much value as ESSA allows, and 3) include three or more “opportunity” indicators for each school system.
For example, a plan could include the following table:
|Academic Indicators (51% of total score)||Opportunity Indicators (49% of total score)|
|PARCC Proficiency||Class Size|
|PARCC Student Growth (For Elementary and Middle School)||Access to Pre-Kindergarten (Elementary School)|
|Graduation Rate (High School)||School Climate Survey Results|
|Chronic Absenteeism Rate||Access to Advanced Courses|
|Career and Technology Certification Rate||Access to Related Arts Courses|
|English Proficiency for ESOL Students||Advanced Teacher Certification Rate|
In addition, a strong ESSA plan should include safeguards against public school privatization strategies that have been known not to work. For example, some higher-ups on the state school board have floated the idea of state interventions via the creation of a statewide charter school recovery district (such plans of a state-wide charter school district have failed in other states), or voucher programs that have been shown to not expand opportunities for children who need it most. The “Protect Our Schools Act of 2017” leaves those intervention strategies up to the local boards, and prevents the state from overruling what the local jurisdiction finds to be the best strategy for improving an underperforming school.
The AFT-Maryland strongly supports HB978/SB871 the Save Our Schools Act of 2017.