Every Student Succeeds Act Update
The Illinois State Board of Education is currently asking for input on proposed changes to Illinois’ Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) state plan. The proposed amendment will guide how public schools across the state are evaluated and rated as well as establish priorities and support for school improvement.
Illinois’ ESSA Plan is available online. Proposed changes to the plan begin on page 47 of the document at https://www.isbe.net/Documents/ESSA-Amendment1-20190422.pdf. Several potential ESSA Plan changes could significantly impact educational opportunities for gifted and advanced students. Some of our members have spoken to these changes at the recent ISBE listening tour meetings across the state. Now we are asking our members to complete an online survey on the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) website, https://www.isbe.net/Pages/ISBE-ESSA-Amendment-Feedback.aspx
IAGC’s participation in similar ISBE requests for comment has had a positive impact. Please consider IAGC’s positions as you take a few minutes to complete the online survey. For further information and rationale behind the following positions, follow this link to IAGC’s website https://www.iagcgifted.org/page-18296 :
Survey Section I:
• IAGC supports maintaining the weighting of “academic indicators” at 75%.
• Academic Indicators: IAGC supports heavily weighting “growth” among the “Academic Indicators.”
3-8 SSSQ Indicators: IAGC supports giving weight to the “P-2 Indicator” and the “Elementary-Middle Grade Indicator,” provided that participation in enrichment and accelerated learning options are components of these indicators.
9-12 SSSQ Indicators: IAGC supports prioritizing “College and Career Readiness” and a weighted fine arts indicator at the high school level. IAGC also encourages ISBE to develop a dedicated indicator for Grades 9-12 that focuses specifically on the percentage of students in these grades successfully participating in pre-college and college-level coursework such as Pre-AP courses, AP courses, and “dual credit” courses provided by community colleges, colleges, and universities.
• Section II, Question 3: “Should ISBE add growth as an indicator at the high school level?”
◦ IAGC supports adding growth as an academic indicator at the high school level and supports weighting this indicator.
• Question 5: IAGC would not recommend a selection among the three offered and instead propose that ISBE go with a modified version of option 3 where ONLY growth scores are used in the second year and third year.
• Question 6: IAGC has not taken a position on the ideal number of designation categories. However, reducing the number of categories to 2 would literally create a “binary” rating system with no room to represent trajectories of change over time.
• Question 7: IAGC recommends using descriptive terms in the names of summative designations that reflect dimensions of overall growth and dimensions of equity.
• Question 8: To address Illinois’ “Excellence Gaps”, IAGC recommends that ISBE modify the criteria for a school to receive an “Exemplary” designation to include indicators of growth and equitable access to advanced learning options.
◦ Illinois should enact an ESSA Plan that emphasizes opportunities for growth for all students and values all growth equally. Therefore, Illinois should implement either a simple linear regression growth model as recommended in Illinois’ original ESSA Plan or a “student growth percentiles” model. IAGC strongly opposes enacting a “growth to proficiency” model that would effectively endorse neglecting the growth of more than ⅓ of Illinois students.
◦ Access to gifted education and advanced academic programs declined in Illinois in the NCLB era in part because gifted and high-ability students were invisible in the accountability framework and report card system. This should be addressed by creating an additional student subgroup representing high-ability students parallel to existing subgroups that highlight the unique learning needs of students with disabilities and English learners.
Once you have completed the ISBE ESSA survey, please also take a moment to send a link to the page to colleagues, relatives, and neighbors who care about ensuring that high-ability students in all Illinois communities can develop their talents.
Thank you in advance for speaking up for high-ability students!