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    Illinois Association for Gifted Children

Every Student Succeeds Act 

Federal Education Law Reauthorized in December 2015 

Significance of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for Gifted Education:

  • Opportunity to move past single-minded focus on basic proficiency in accountability plan
        • Requires an additional academic indicator (measure of student growth) for K-8
        • Requires at least one indicator of school quality or student success (e.g., access to and completion of advanced coursework)
  • Permits use of Title I funds for identifying and serving gifted and talented students
  • Requires that teacher training to meet needs of gifted students is addressed in both state and district plans for Title II funds
  • Title IV funds available for “students who are often underrepresented in enriching subjects”
  • Requires disaggregation of student subgroups by achievement level
  • Reauthorizes Javits grant program

IAGC Advocacy Efforts in Connection with ESSA:

Federal Legislator Briefings, Washington, DC (Winter 2016; Winter 2017): IAGC encouraged legislators to increase funding for Javits grants and influence the U.S. Department of Education's ESSA rule-making and guidance process to highlight the Title I and II provisions supporting gifted and talented students.  

Thank you to our U.S. Senators from Illinois, Senator Dick Durbin and Senator Tammy Duckworth, for co-signing the bipartisan Grassley-Casey letter in support of continued funding for the highly effective Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program in 2018! 

ESSA Gifted Education Policy Brief for ISBE (Spring 2016): IAGC worked with the Untapped Potential Project to co-sponsor and submit the Gifted Education Policy Brief to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Testimony was incorporated into ISBE’s compiled report (posted online and distributed to legislators).

ISBE Listening Tours (Spring-Fall 2016): IAGC representatives attended and spoke at all three rounds of meetings conducted by ISBE throughout the state to gather feedback about ESSA goals.  

Congressional Hearings (Summer-Fall 2016): IAGC submitted written testimony and attended two House Education Committee hearings on ESSA to emphasize the importance of ensuring that all students, including those of high-ability, are accounted for in the new state plan.

Policy Recommendations (Fall 2016): IAGC developed specific policy recommendations in response to ISBE’s first and second drafts of an ESSA plan.

State Accountability Plan Development (Summer 2016-Spring 2017):

  • Attended biweekly meetings of the Illinois Balanced Accountability Measure Committee.
  • Recommended academic and non-academic indicators for incorporation into Illinois' new accountability plan.
  • Presented on how Illinois should define and measure growth for high-ability students, and on access to advanced academic opportunities as a school quality indicator.
  • Results: The committee voted to recommend a growth model and other accountability provisions aligned with IAGC recommendations.

ESSA Plan Status and Timeline

ISBE submitted the Illinois ESSA State Plan to the U.S. Department of Education on April 3, 2017.  The 2017-18 school year will be a transition year, with full ESSA implementation taking place in 2018.  

IAGC ESSA Accountability Recommendations:

  • GROWTH INDICATOR: Adopt a “true” growth model based on individual student growth across the entire achievement spectrum, and do not diminish weight for students moving to achievement levels beyond proficient.  Measuring the growth of all students is critical because 33% of students in Illinois already meet or exceed proficiency (Illinois Report Card).
  • WEIGHTING: Weight individual growth more heavily than proficiency rates across grade levels.
  • SCHOOL QUALITY INDICATOR: Prioritize and incentive closing “opportunity” and “excellence gaps” between economic and racial subgroups by adding a school quality indicator that looks at access to a broad curriculum, including enrichment and advanced academic opportunities. Take advantage of ESSA reforms in Title I, Title II, and Title IV to provide incentives and resources to help schools provide enrichment and advanced academic programs.
  • ASSESSMENTS: Use assessments that evaluate students at the grade level of the instruction they receive and that have sufficiently high ceilings. Neutralize any disincentive to accelerate by crediting schools based on higher level of difficulty of more advanced tests. This is supported by ESSA’s advanced middle school math assessment exception and computer adaptive assessments.
  • REPORT CARDS: Make students who have scored within the top 10% locally in one or more years a disaggregated subgroup for reporting. Create a dedicated page within the Illinois Report Card to display the achievement data and growth of this group as a whole as well as ESSA-specified subgroups. Similar to the approach of making former EL students a monitored subgroup, spotlight the participation in enrichment and advanced academic programs by disadvantaged students.

Contact Us:

Illinois Association for Gifted Children

1500 Sullivan Road
Aurora, IL 60506

Ph: 630-907-5047
Fax: 630-907-5976

email us:

The Illinois Association for Gifted Children is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

© Illinois Association for Gifted Children

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Carolyn E. Welch –       Eric C. Calvert –

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