- Under the updated Elementary and Secondary Education Act, now known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), schools still need to test students in grades three through eight annually and high school students once — but proposed regulations from the Obama administration would allow seven states to qualify for a pilot to innovate.
- According to U.S. News & World Report, a limited number of school districts in the chosen states would be able to use alternative assessments to better track student progress.
- While the administration has encouraged districts to pare down the number of tests they administer, Secretary of Education John King highlighted the hard work involved in redesigning testing systems.
The passage of the ESEA update, shifting No Child Left Behind to the Every Student Succeeds Act, left a number of regulatory questions the U.S. Department of Education is still sorting out with proposed guidance and regulations. As the Obama administration releases these documents, districts and states will be able to move forward with the difficult work of implementation.
The new law, in general, sends more power back to the states, which in some ways removes the federal government as an easy scapegoat for the problems of schools. When it comes to testing, ESSA creates space for innovation that NCLB actively discouraged with such punitive consequences tied to “adequate yearly progress.” The Council of Chief State School Officers has noticed widespread interest in the testing pilot program among its members, but with only seven states permitted to participate, many will be left out.