State Ed Plan Receives $1.6B In Federal Funding

New York state’s Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA) was recently approved by the U.S. Department of Education. The $1.6 billion in annual funding will remain, while changes from No Child Left Behind will soon be affecting schools in Chautauqua County.

David O’Rourke, superintendent of Erie-2 BOCES, said while there are aspects of the initiative that are similar, ESSA is “going to be more holistic a picture” of school districts.

Aspects of No Child Left Behind that will be implemented again with ESSA is performance tracking of sub-groups that include racial/ethnic students, low-income students, English language learners and students with disabilities and grades 3-8 English and math testing.

“(The sub groups) historically in our school systems have not done as well as non-poverty or non-minority populations,” O’Rourke said. “Those sub-groups are still going to measured and tracked. There’s really an equity and civil rights aspect to that.”

ESSA will measure schools by specific indicators that include English language arts, math, science, progress in learning English for those who speak it as a second language and chronic absenteeism regarding instances where teachers miss more than 18-days with exceptions. High schools will be measured with additional indicators such as social studies, graduation rates, college/civic/career readiness which includes advance course work and earning technical certificates.

ESSA also is looking at improving the experience of testing altogether while reducing testing time. Examples of this include reducing 3-8 English and math testing from three days to two days.

O’Rourke said superintendents have just begun having conversations about the changes that will be coming through later this year with the current school year acting as a baseline to compare the changes.

“It’s a conversation we’ve been having with our school chiefs,” he said.

He said the new initiative will track the availability of programs that schools offer students and the amount of programs available. These programs include access to advanced placement courses, college credit classes and access to the arts.

“They’ve added new ways of looking at schools,” O’Rourke said. “I think through broader lenses which should give us a more complete picture of what the school is accomplishing for its students.”

Along with ESSA, New York state will also be rolling out the Next Generation Learning Standards that are replacing the Common Core Standards of previous years.

“Through a tremendous amount of effort and collaboration, New York state developed an ESSA plan that focuses on bringing greater equity to education and on educating the whole child,” Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said.

The New York State Education Department will now have to propose amendments to the Commissioner’s Regulations in order for them to match the ESSA plan.