Change the Odds with ESSA
By Liam Goldrick, Director of Policy —
Opportunity, hard work and equity are part of our nation’s ethos. Even amid the real struggles we face every day, many of us cling tightly to these ideals. And while researchers have just detected a narrowing of the achievement gap for the first time in decades, bringing us closer to our ideals, those same researchers predict the gap won’t completely close for another 60 to 110 years.
We know our students can’t wait that long.
When it comes to becoming ready for college, career and life, the odds seem stacked against them. “Traditionally underserved students, including minorities and low-income students, attend and complete college at far lower rates than their peers. These students are suspended, expelled, and drop out at higher rates, and are less likely to have access to strong teachers and challenging curricula,” according to the U.S. Department of Education. What’s truly alarming is that more than half of the children in our public schools now fit in this category, as low income.
We know a high-quality education makes a world of difference for students, but we have become more divided than ever before about how to achieve it at scale. Driven by good intentions and fueled by passion, we have become mired in conflict. This doesn’t have to be the case.
Especially in recent years, more research has become available about education initiatives, and we’ve learned quite a bit about the highest-leverage practices that make the most difference for students. Primed with this research, we can unite in evidence-based action to change the odds for students across the country.
We know you’re up for that challenge.
Through December this year, my New Teacher Center colleagues and I will provide weekly “Change Makers” — resources and information that can help you change the odds in your school district. We’re starting with this checklist that outlines the opportunities presented by ESSA and how to turn those opportunities into change makers.
It’s promising that the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) gives district leaders greater flexibility to choose strategies for turning around low-performing schools, and has placed an increased emphasis on using the small-but-growing body of education research to inform those decisions. We believe that ESSA, if maximized, offers the potential to bring greater balance to our schools, driving much needed equity in education and steadying the course of this country’s future. That is why we are encouraging districts to use our checklist and leverage the opportunities presented by ESSA as a catalyst for the must needed change in our education system today.
Check back weekly for stories, helpful guides and information.