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What does NCLB rewrite mean for LAUSD? Maybe not so much

Craig Clough | December 11, 2015

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President Barack Obama signs the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). (White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

With President Obama‘s signing the rewrite of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law yesterday, a new era of federal and state education policy has been ushered in.

While the new law, Every Child Achieves Act (ESSA), doesn’t mean much for LA Unified in an immediate sense because it had already received a waiver from many of the difficult provisions of NCLB, it could bring an abrupt end to a complex school accountability system LA Unified has been helping to develop for several years.

The reason for the possible sudden end to the new system is because the ESSA law shifts much of the power back to the states from Washington for developing accountability systems for schools.

LA Unified received a waiver from NCLB along with the five other districts known as CORE. As part of the waiver, CORE needed to develop its own accountabily system, which it is scheduled to be put into action for the first time in February. But now that NCLB is ending, it could be a hello/goodbye moment for the system by the end of this school year, or it could live on if the state chooses to give CORE a waiver from its own accountability system, according to EdSource.

Both the CORE system and the one being developed by the state do not use a single test score to rank a school as did the old API system that has been suspended. Rather, it uses a multifaceted, robust approach to ranking schools that considers graduation rates, dropout rates, attendance, school climate and English learner achievement.

Although the two systems are using similar factors to measure, they have a key difference when it comes to the final outcome. While the CORE system will provide each school with a single number on a 1-100 scale, similar to the API, numerous state officials have said the system they are developing is likely not to be summed up by a single number.

“We should be looking at a dashboard, more than a single thing. The idea that it all has to come down to a single number, that was the problem of the API,” Michael Kirst, President of the California State Board of Education, told the Los Angeles Times.

The new California accountability system is scheduled to go into action for 2017-18 school year, according to the deadlines set in the ESSA. But the signing of the new law will likely pushback the timeline of the development of the state system, which was set to be completed by August, the Los Angeles Times reported.

There is also a complex list of transition deadlines regarding when NCLB provisions end and ESSA’s begin for different grants and programs.

Click here for the Council of Chief State School Officers outline of the transition plan as it stand. And check out the video below to learn more about the CORE school accountability system.

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