When the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was reauthorized in December 2015, Teachstone joined with others working across grade levels to celebrate the new law—the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA allows and emboldens states to build seamless systems that recognize and incorporate early childhood education in a pre-K to 12 system.
We spoke of the ways we can “bridge the gap” between early learning and the K-12 worlds; encouraging the use of the CLASS tools across age levels to ensure common language and understanding of teacher-child interactions. Each tool explains how interactions must change over time to accomodate different age levels—from a cooing baby all the way up to a defiant teenager. Anyone surprised to hear I have a 14, 16, and 18 year old in my home?
Over a year after the overwhelming bipartisan passage of ESSA, and with a new Administration and a new Congress, some changes in implementation have occurred. Most of the ESSA guidance has remained the same. However, there are a couple of key changes that concern stakeholder engagement and school improvement.
Of course, much has stayed the same. Many of the important details were included in the law itself and are not subject to new guidance, such as the definition of professional development as sustained, intensive, collaborative, job-embedded, data-driven, and classroom-focused. Coaching, anyone?
Under ESSA, school districts are responsible for developing agreements with Head Start programs to coordinate services, including: data reporting and sharing, alignment of standards and curricula, and transition activities for children moving from Head Start into public school programs. Transition activities might include sharing assessment data, promoting summer learning programs, engaging families, and implementing joint professional development opportunities that involve both community-based providers and school staff.
We have great reason to hope that the spirit of partnering will pervade the new state plans. It has been integral to the success of many of our early childhood programs who have relied on it to create a “system” from the patchwork of programs and funding streams. Partnering is just one of the many ways in which the K-12 world can benefit from the inclusion of early childhood in their state plans.
Likewise, we hope that the early childhood field’s deep belief in the need for developmentally appropriate child assessments pervades states’ plans, at least for young children, and that they are used to inform and improve teachers’ practice.
States will be rolling out their plans under two deadlines, April 3, 2017, and September 18, 2017. Look here for a list of each state’s submission date, and please let us know what support you need as you review and provide feedback on your state's plans.
This summer, when we know more about states’ plans and have some highlights to share, please join my colleague, Rebecca Berlin, for her webinar, “How CLASS Supports Teachers & Children: Transitions, ESSA, & Beyond.” You’ll learn more about how to align across the age levels and how to ensure the focus on critical teacher-student interactions is included in your state.
At Teachstone, we talk to a lot of educators. From coast to coast and around the globe, there’s a common thread that unites them: wanting to be better for their students.
Even when things are tough in education, even in years made even more challenging by the pandemic and its effects on teaching and learning, educators are striving to be their best. That dedication to equitable, ongoing development is what inspires Teachstone’s work. To reach the day when all children are afforded excellent education and care, it’s going to take a systematic, data-driven approach, and we are enthusiastic partners in getting there.
By the end of every summer, the education world erupts with talk about back-to-school. This year was no different. The air was full of optimism. Vaccines had rolled out, many of us took our first vacation in a year and a half, and my inbox was full of the “best back to school” sales. Sadly, as quickly as many schools welcomed children back into the classroom with open arms, they were forced to close again due to increases in COVID-19 infections.
Admins, teachers, students, and families alike may be feeling concerned, cautiously optimistic, pessimistic, or confused. If you’re like me, you might feel all of the above all at once. But, I am taking comfort in knowing that this year, we are armed with more data.
Teachstone applauds the removal of three Confederate statues in Charlottesville, VA. Our organization is headquartered in this Southern city and we have seen first-hand the visceral reaction evoked by these tributes to figureheads of the Lost Cause movement. While the cause of the Confederacy in the Civil War has been lost, the war on racism has not yet been won.
Every state, every district, every school, every teacher faced decisions that they had never anticipated in the last academic year. As the end of the 2020-2021 school year approaches, it’s time to reflect on those decisions, learn from others, and prepare for the fall ahead.