Archives for December 2015

Chicago board settles suit

The Associated Press reported on Dec. 17 that the Justice Department said on Wednesday that “it has settled a lawsuit it filed against the Chicago Board of Education alleging pregnancy discrimination against teachers.” The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Chicago last December, “said the board had a pattern of discrimination against pregnant teachers at Scammon Elementary School that resulted in the women receiving lower performance evaluations and threats of termination.” Under the terms of the settlement, “the board must pay $280,000 in back pay and compensatory damages to eight women and change its personnel policies to guard against discrimination based on gender and pregnancy,” and it “also must establish training requirements that reinforce a commitment to a workplace without gender-based discrimination.”

The end of “test and blame”

The Ohio Education Association has heralded the end of the “test, blame and punish” era of the No Child Left Behind Act with the new ESEA, just signed by President Obama, dubbed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). OEA believes the new law puts educational decision-making back where it belongs – in the hands of local educators, parents and communities – while keeping the focus on students most in need. ESSA recognizes that student success is more than a test score by allowing states to gauge student achievement through multiple measures.

“ESSA recognizes that the one-size-fits-all approach to student achievement does not work,” said Ohio Education Association (OEA) President Becky Higgins. “ESSA will allow Ohio to reduce the amount of standardized testing. In doing so, students will have more time to learn and develop critical thinking, and teachers will have more time to teach and inspire the joy of learning. The measure also provides an opportunity for educators to have a greater voice in shaping education policy.”

ESSA: The ink is now drying

President Obama has signed the Every Student Succeeds Act. On Wednesday, in an 85-12 vote, the U.S. Senate approved the bill, which replaces No Child Left Behind as the latest iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Most media reports focus on how unpopular NCLB has become, on how the new law devolves much education policy authority to states, and on the strong bipartisan nature of the vote. Here are just a few of the main aspects of this new set of federal regulations:

  • Replaces adequate yearly progress with a statewide accountability system
  • Maintains reporting about student performance in grades 3-8 and high school
  • Affirms states can control their own academic standards, and that they can identify and prescribe remedies for low-performing schools
  • Maintains reporting of disaggregated data and preserves alternate assessments for students with significant cognitive disabilities
  • Provides resources to improve teacher quality
  • Provides for expansion of charter schools