Here Is The Flexibility ESSA Gave California


The California Department of Education wanted to pilot a new assessment that they said was better aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. Apparently Washington, DC knows best and they told the state no.

EdSource reports:

The U.S. Department of Education has rejected Californiaā€™s bid to begin phasing in tests this spring based on new science standards, in lieu of current tests based on standards in place since 1998.

In aĀ Sept. 30 letterĀ to state education leaders, a senior official in theĀ U.S. Department of Education said California has not demonstrated that piloting the new tests would advance student achievement or do a better job reporting on school performance.

Earlier this year, California submitted a request for a federal waiver from administering the current tests in science and instead wanted permission to administer a pilot version of a new test aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards, with a longer field testĀ the following year.

ā€œThe state has not demonstrated that the requested waiver would advance student achievement or maintain or improve transparency in reporting to parents and the public on student achievement and school performance, including the achievement of subgroups of students,ā€ Ann Whalen, senior advisor to U.S. Education Secretary John B. King, Jr., wrote in the letter to State Superintendent of Public InstructionĀ Tom Torlakson and Michael Kirst, the president of theĀ State Board of Education.

The department has given the state 60 days to resubmit its waiver request if it meets certain conditions outlined in the letter.

I’m not a fan of the Next Generation Science Standards so I think creating a new assessment aligned to them is a horrible idea. It is, however, the state’s horrible idea to implement and be held accountable. The Every Student Succeeds Act we were told was going to end “the national school board,” empower states, and give states greater flexibility.

So if ESSA was supposed to do all of this for California, what legal basis does Secretary King have to do this? Congress gave it to him when they determined theĀ U.S. Secretary of Education has to approve the plan.

You can’t say we didn’t warn you.