ESSA; A New Education Law Needs a New Partnering Strategy

The House of Representatives passed a compromise education bill that would replace the current No Child Left Behind Act of 2001:

After three failed attempts since 2007 to replace No Child Left Behind, this week the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a compromise bill – the Every Student Succeeds Act – by a bipartisan vote of 359-64. The bill’s passage clears the way for a Senate vote next week, and means it will likely be signed into law by President Barack Obama (U.S. News and World Report).

This is good news as the bill is a much needed update of the current law. Although the focus on the new bill was on accountability for test scores and graduation rates, the new emphasis allows for more flexibility in how that gets done, protects schools and students from over-testing and continues to provide funding for Title I.

Some of the most important contributions to this bill are to help teachers get better at what they do. Professional Development has a new definition that includes ongoing support, as opposed to one-time support. We have to partner with teachers to help them improve, and the same findings are revealed if you look across all companies in America, that partnering, is the only way to improve someone else. Mentoring, working closely with other teachers and ongoing support where new ideas are given time to work are all productive avenues for partnering to improve teaching.

What this law does not do is help to support a large trend in America to redefine how we teach teachers. I think it would be very important to provide a national strategy to investigate what we are already finding in colleges and graduate schools of education—that the ground is shifting around us and we lack a forward-leaning policy to help organize this profession going forward.

Why not work together to choose the best ideas about this from across the country, and then set up some pilot research sites to test out those good ideas. Ideas that were deemed achievable in the short term could be adopted right away and longer term strategies could be researched and refined. If the teaching profession is important to all of us, let’s make an effort to define a new national partnering strategy to improve how we train and support the teaching profession.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

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