District Administration December2017 - 14
Iowa to include student feedback
in ESSA accountability
Iowa intends to survey students on
school climate as part of its Every Student Succeeds (ESSA) accountability
plan. If approved, students in grades
3 through 12 would be asked to rank
how strongly they agree with statements such as "My teachers care about
me," and "My school building is kept
in good condition."
"ESSA gave us a real opportunity
to look at performance beyond test
scores, and take a more well-rounded
approach," says Staci Hupp, a spokesperson for the Iowa Department of
Education. "This is going to be one
more piece of the picture for schools,
in terms of helping them improve."
ESSA requires states to include at
least one measure of school quality
or student success in accountability
systems. The Conditions for Learning
survey selected by Iowa is designed for
students, staff and parents, but only
the student component would count
toward accountability. The staff and
parent surveys would be optional for
schools to administer.
The U.S. Department of Education
has until January to approve or deny
Iowa's plan. If approved, Iowa plans
to conduct the survey annually beginning in spring 2018.
The survey, which also focuses on
issues such as safety and classroom
engagement, could be another tool
that alerts superintendents to participation and culture issues at their
schools, Hupp says.
"It's not designed to make or break
a school's overall results. It's about
helping a school identify secondary
contributors to academic results,"
The reliability question
Illinois and North Dakota are the
only other states that include student
surveys in their ESSA accountability
systems, though other states have
explored the idea, says Phillip Lovell,
vice president of government relations
and policy development at the Alliance for Excellent Education.
"Most states have not seen that the
measures have been quite ready for
prime time," Lovell says. "Fundamentally, the states want to measure things
that are important to kids, teachers
and parents, including safety, engagement and school environment."
The question is how to get the most
accurate picture of every school in a
district-an ESSA requirement.
"If everyone does really well or
really poorly, it's not telling us anything about how one school does relative to another," Lovell says.
Results can also be distorted.
"Everyone wants to have the highest score," Lovell says. "This information is really important to be used
when it comes to figuring out what's
actually happening in local schools,
but it seems like it might be a better
option if you could get data without
making it high-stakes."
MOVERS AND SHAKERS
Under principal Bill Santarsiero's leadership, Morris Street
Elementary School in Danbury, Connecticut, became one of
30 schools nationwide to earn a National Blue Ribbon from
the U.S. Department of Education for closing the achievement
gap. Morris Street's student population-which is 71 percent
Hispanic and 7 percent black-tested in
the top 15 percent nationwide in English
and math. The school-which had been
the lowest-performing in Danbury Public
Schools-began making progress when
Santarsiero gave more decision-making
power to teachers and parents.
14 December 2017
Guadalupe Guerrero is now superintendent
of Portland Public Schools, Oregon's largest
district. Guerrero will focus on recruiting and
retaining talented principals, a task the district
has struggled to accomplish. Guerrero also
plans to address how certain
minority and low-income
middle-grade students do not
receive effective instruction.
Guerrero recently served as
deputy superintendent of San