Delaware Dept. of Ed. focuses on low performing schools in ESSA rollout
The focus of an education work group Wednesday night was centered on funding for the lowest performing First State schools under a new federal law – the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA.
Unlike the No Child Left Behind law that it’s replacing, the Every Student Succeeds Act allows for more flexibility in how states distribute funds, and other measures.
Included in that flexibility is ability to determine how the lowest performing First State schools will be selected to receive additional federal funding - through different types of grants and formulas - and for how long.
Under ESSA - the Every Student Succeeds Act - those low performing schools will have four years to meet new criteria before the state will have to come up with a new plan for it. That could mean the state could take over the school, fire its principal or turn it into a charter school.
But First State Education Secretary Steven Godowsky hopes it won’t come to that. He hopes the flexibility the the new law will instead provide appropriate incentives for schools to want to improve.
“I’m hopeful - as a result of the work we're doing right now with ESSA and our targeted schools for support and comprehensive schools - that this will be perceived as a positive thing: more resources, more help to improve as opposed to the stigma of identified as a failing school," Godowsky said. "So that was kind of the old model, and with ESSA we’re trying to change that around.”
What Delaware’s state-determined actions for failing schools might be were discussed Wednesday, and have yet to be determined. However, the common opinion was that they should vary school-to-school based on the underlying reasons for low student performance.
The possibility of continuing to fund - or finding the funds to continue - those schools' initiatives for a longer period of time was also discussed.
President for the Delaware Association of School Psychologists Katie Eaken says four years of additional funding may not be enough, with many initiatives taking at least three years to implement school-wide.
“A lot of the focus I’ve noticed and even in this law is very academic, and that is the primary focus – we’re just going to fix these academics and not looking at the whole child and what the other things may be that are contributing to that," Eaken said.
She and other school psychologists went to the meeting and are trying to receive inclusion in helping address underlying causes leading to schools lagging behind academically.
“We did review the draft of ESSA and despite attending some of the discussion groups and the previous community conversations, we’re still not included in that law – whereas, school counselors are," Eaken said.
They’d also like to see different components of support - including things like intensive therapy - for those students with the highest level of need. More specifically, they're promoting an evidence-based framework called Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS).
The community discussion times and locations are below, and registration information can be found here:
November 21, 6 to 8 p.m. – Cap Henlopen High School
November 29, 6 to 8 p.m. – Seaford High School
December 1, 6 to 8 p.m. – John Collette Education Resource Center
December 8, 6 to 8 p.m. – Newark Charter School
14 de diciembre, 6 to 8 p.m. - North Georgetown Elementary School
20 de diciembre, 6 to 8 p.m. - Wilmington’s Latin American Community Center