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ESSA's Impact on Accountability: Is Your District Ready?

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the nation’s new education law, dramatically alters the landscape of K12 accountability.

Not only does the law return power to the states in determining how to measure school success, it also expands the lens through which success must be viewed—adding non-academic factors such as school climate and student engagement to the mix.

For educators who chafed at No Child Left Behind’s overreliance on standardized tests, this is welcome news. Savvy school leaders have long known that test scores alone provide a very narrow window into student achievement—and that non-academic factors such as climate and engagement play a significant role in helping students succeed in school and beyond.

As these non-academic factors take on added significance, K12 schools will need reliable instruments to assess them. Purposefully listening to students and parents through focus groups and community engagement is critical. So, too, is the use of research-backed surveys and other metrics. We live in a world where data matters. Real improvements in our schools, or elsewhere, will not happen absent our ability to listen and understand what our communities are saying about the work that we do.

That’s why K12 Insight released The School Leader’s Definitive Guide to the Every Student Succeeds Act—to help you understand what these new measures of student and school performance are, and how to use them in your districts.

Within this guide, you’ll learn:

  • What new ways of measuring school performance mean for your district.
  • How non-academic indicators help districts go “beyond the test.”
  • Best practices for using student and staff engagement to drive school improvements.

The guide also provides practical examples of how two school districts are already using these indicators to improve community engagement and performance.

As you read the guide, ask yourself two questions:

  1. Could a school survey change how you think?
  2. Do you listen to the needs of your community?

If the answer to either of these questions is no, it’s time to rethink your approach.

We still have time to effectively implement ESSA—states don’t have to submit their accountability plans to the U.S. Department of Education until the 2017-2018 school year. As a new school year dawns, now is the time to prepare, to plan ahead, and to reengage with your community.

Change is here. It’s time to take advantage. How can you use these new measures of success to improve the school experience? Download the guide (it’s free) to find out.