Predictions for Little ESSA

Dec 3, 2015 by

Sandy Kress – There is a caveat that one should always make in essays that offer up predictions. Given the power that human beings have, with the help of the good Lord, to change the course of events, outcomes can turn out much better or worse than anticipated. With that understood, I want to make a few predictions about the new federal education legislation and its likely impact on our students and our future:

1. ESSA will inevitably be more popular than her older brother, NCLB. Notwithstanding the flaws in NCLB (which could have been repaired), it’s always more popular to give away money with fewer strings.

2. Really good reformers, policy makers and educators will rise to the occasion and make the best of whatever policy is in place, including this new one. Indeed a few states and their leaders may very well respond to ESSA’s greater flexibility with innovation and new  energy.

3. The improvements that have been hard won in the accountability era will not dissipate entirely. The system has changed for the better in so many ways, and some of the policies that led to the improvement will remain in place.

4. Further improvement, however, will generally come slowly and in meager doses. ESSA creates virtually no pressure for choice, change, or improvement. Its core policies are those that were largely in place  in the late 80s. They didn’t create gains then, and they won’t now.

5. NAEP scores, thus, will likely stay on a stagnant path for the rest of the 2010s, marking a real and sad contrast with the strong upward trajectory of the 2000s.

6. If results matter politically, leadership will come back to the view in several years that, while states and districts do and must run the show, federal dollars ought to be spent primarily to stimulate improvement and more effective results.

7. Until then, while liberals will want to increase programs and spending on education programs, conservatives will increasingly question why so many billions are borrowed and spent on education programs they deem ineffective and not related to federal purpose. This will be the central debate for the next 4-5 years.

8. Finally, more in the nature of a wish rather than a prediction, I hope down the road all sides will come back to the table to fix and make right the federal role so that it will once again push even better achievement and a further narrowing of the achievement gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students.

Source: Predictions for Little ESSA – Sandy Kress | Weebly

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