Thursday, March 9, 2017
How you can advocate for an Opportunity to Learn index to be included in the new NY accountability system!
In December of 2016 President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced NCLB and requires states to develop a new accountability system for their schools. ESSA mandates that schools be rated mostly on academic factors, including test scores and graduation rates. But it also allows the inclusion of a non-academic factor that would assess school quality in a more holistic way.
The New York State Education Department (NYSED) is currently circulating a survey soliciting feedback from the public on what “school quality indicator” should be included in our state’s ESSA accountability system. Class Size Matters and NYS Allies for Public Education have proposed that an Opportunity to Learn (OTL) Index (here and below) should be included in the new accountability system.
Our Opportunity to Learn Index incorporates evidence-based factors proven to work to improve student outcomes, and that most parents want to see in their children’s schools, such as smaller class sizes, arts education, and low teacher attrition and student suspension rates. The NYSED survey mentions an Opportunity to Learn option, but includes only a few of its potential components. Instead, many of the options on the survey involve mostly academic, test-based factors. Not only are these factors redundant (they are already included in the other indicators), they do little to address the conditions that must be offered our students for true and meaningful education to occur.
Please complete the state’s survey by March 20th, and also consider attending a regional NYSED ESSA meeting to have your voice heard. The times and places for the NYC meetings are below, as well as the web address to RSVP.
Here are some of the factors that we include in our OTL index and we urge you to mark “Support” in the survey:
● #2. Chronic Absenteeism
● #7. Student Attendance
● #15. Student Suspension Rate
● #17. Teacher Attendance
● #19. Teacher Turnover
● #23. Parent and Community Engagement
● #34. Student access to arts education
● #35. Student access to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math
● #36. Student access to early learning programs
● #37. Student access to a full educational program that includes Science, Arts, Music, and Physical Education.
In addition, we urge you to mark “Strongly support” # 22. Opportunity to Learn Indicators (e.g., class sizes; guidance counselors; many other possibilities) even though the factors mentioned here are only a few of those we have included in our proposal.
The other options offered in the survey we do NOT support because:
● They are academic and/or test-based, especially since the rest of the accountability system will be based on these factors, or
● They are too hard to objectively measure or
● They would tend to violate student privacy (as in tracking students’ post-secondary outcomes).
What Can YOU Do?
1. Please take the NYSED ESSA survey NOW. Survey closes March 20th.
2. Please also share our Opportunity to Learn index with other parents and community members and discuss what you want for your schools.
3. Attend a regional NYSED ESSA meeting to have your voice heard. You can bring a copy of our OTL index with you to share.