Statement from Superintendent Richard A. Carranza regarding the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA)
December 10, 2015 (San Francisco) - “President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) today, ushering a new era of federal accountability for schools and eliminating many of the most onerous aspects of the antiquated No Child Left Behind policy (NCLB).
NCLB determined whether or not a school was making ‘adequately yearly progress’ based on very little information about how students at the school were are actually doing. With ESSA, education policy decisions now rest even more significantly on the states, so we’re particularly excited that California lawmakers also appear to align with the essential elements of the School Quality Improvement Index (SQII).
SFUSD teamed up with five other school districts, all members of the California Office to Reform Education (CORE), to create SQII, the nation’s first school district accountability system that includes not only academic achievement, but also student social emotional learning and school culture and climate. This Index measures student academic as well as social-emotional learning, and the schools’ overall culture and climate. We’re moving away from narrowing curriculum (essentially only paying attention to math and English test scores) to looking at the whole child again.
ESSA also calls on states to ensure targeted support to underperforming schools. Our work with the School Quality Improvement System has enabled us to move away from punitive sanctions for what were program improvement schools and to move toward a process that allows schools to focus on key problems of practice and work together on a continuous cycle of improvement.
Equity is at the heart of our work in SFUSD and this focus on services to our specific student populations will continue.
My great hope is that, with increased autonomy, states won’t default to a low bar but rather raise the bar for all students, especially given the complex and high demands of our changing world.
At SFUSD we are committed to continue looking at how students of different socioeconomic, racial and language backgrounds, as well as special needs, are doing compared to their peers within and across schools and districts. At the heart of the Index is a focus on eliminating disparity and disproportionality. In fact, unlike NCLB, the Index includes results for any student group with 20 or more students.
However, in addition to the great transformation that is taking place for our schools in terms of what are we measuring, we also need to build capacity and adequately fund the vision we have for our future. Though funding has improved in the past few years, California is still woefully behind most of the nation in per-pupil funding. We simply can’t create the schools our students deserve and our society needs without continuing to invest in public education.”
Page updated on 12/10/15