November 30, 2016

Educators for Excellence reacts to the U.S. Department of Education's newly released ESSA regulations

New regulations incorporate public comments from E4E to address accountability standards, public reporting and state plan provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act

November 30, 2016 (New York) – Educators for Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led organization that seeks to elevate the voices of teachers, reacted to the U.S. Department of Education’s (DOE) newly released regulations on the accountability, public reporting and state plan provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Incorporating feedback from more than 20,000 classroom teachers, including comments submitted by E4E members, the DOE acknowledged the need to reduce disciplinary practices that push out students who often need the most support. The new regulatory language will ensure that states work with Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to implement locally-designed activities promoting welcoming and inclusive school climates that consider the unique needs of all subgroups of students and support their learning.

“We applaud the Department of Education for incorporating feedback from current, practicing classroom teachers into the final accountability regulations, as doing so will help to foster safe, healthy and affirming school environments for all students,” said Educators for Excellence co-CEO Evan Stone. “We strongly urge the next administration to maintain these regulations to encourage timely, effective implementation at the state level.”

In comments submitted to the DOE’s initial proposed rules, E4E recommended that, in addition to requiring state improvement plans to review inequities with per-pupil expenditures and improve access to strong teachers, LEAs consider additional indicators of a high quality school, such as: access to technology, access to music and art and access to enrichment and advanced learning opportunities. The new DOE regulations incorporate a number of additional indicators, requiring state improvement plans to review resources related to students’ access to effective, in-field, and experienced teachers; advanced coursework; full-day kindergarten and preschool; and specialized instructional support personnel, such as school counselors and social workers.

Teachers across E4E’s chapters who were part of its 2016 Teacher Action Team on ESSA also reacted to the regulations:

“I am thrilled student climate is included in the new ESSA accountability regulations. As a teacher in South Los Angeles, I know firsthand how the school environment plays a critical role in student success," said Misti Kemmer, 5th grade teacher at Russell Elementary School in Los Angeles.

“We all work and learn better when we feel physically and emotionally safe, when we are part of a team, when we feel free to express our opinions and ideas. The same goes for our students, and so it is vital that schools make this a priority,” said Richard Johnson, 5th grade teacher at P.S. 105 in the Bronx.

“Inequity is about more than just per-pupil spending, so I’m heartened to see that we will also be taking into account students’ access to advanced coursework, which goes a long way in preparing students for the academic rigor of college," said Ben Mackenzie, 9th grade Language Arts teacher at Hiawatha Collegiate High School in Minneapolis.