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Discussion Questions

1. Take a look at your state’s ESSA plan. How is your state’s ESSA plan a strong advocate for equity and in what ways may the plan be missing the mark in terms of equity and why?

  • 2. If you were a parent or educator during the implementation of NCLB, in your opinion how was racial equity framed under the law? Do you think NCLB worked to promote racial equity?
  • 3. Is your district and/or school engaging in discussions about racial equity, and how, if at all, is ESSA framing these discussions?
  • 4. ESSA intends to provide states and districts with more freedom and flexibility from federal oversight. Do you think this is actually happening on the ground in your daily work as an educational leader? Have you faced any obstacles in your daily work as a result of ESSA?
  • 5. Does ESSA’s flexibility and freedom from federal oversight promote equity, especially in terms of developing assessments to meet the context-specific needs of your district and school community?
  • 6. What types of assessments are you developing and implementing, and who (e.g., administrators, teachers, parents, students, community members) is involved in the design and discussion around these assessments, and why? Are there certain perspectives missing from assessment design and data discussions? What can you do to ensure those holding these perspectives are equal partners in data-driven decision-making?
  • 7. How are you dialoguing about data with your district and/or school community? Are there any biases in hindsight that you may cany when engaging in these discussions about data? Also, how are you using data to think about how racial inequities emerge systemically? Are you using an anti-deficit approach that does not blame racially minoritized students for the inequities in educational opportunities they experience daily?
  • 8. What types of professional development and ongoing coaching are your receiving for anti-racist approaches to data-driven decision-making?

ESSA Resources

  • • Council of Chief State School Officers: term/151
  • • Education Commission of the States:
  • • The Education Trust:
  • • National Association of Elementary School Principals: www.
  • • National Association of Secondary School Principals: www.nassp. org/policy-advocacy-center/resources/essa-toolkit/essa-fact-sheets/every-student-succeeds-act-essa-overview/
  • • National Conference of State Legislators:
  • • National PTA: Every-Student-Succeeds-Act-ESSA

Recommended Readings

Darling-Hammond, L., Bae, S., Cook-Harvey, C. M., Lam, L., Mercer, C., Podolsky, A., Stosich, A. (2016). Pathways to new accountability through the Every Student Succeeds Act. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute.

Datnow, A., & Park, V. (2014). Data-driven leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Fernandez, E., LeChasseur, K., & Weiner, J. (2017). Introduction. Educational Administration Quarterly, 55(5), 699-704. Special Issue: Implications and Consequences of ESSA: Exploring the Changing Landscape of Federal Policy and Educational Administration.

National Urban League. (2019). Standards of equity and excellence: A lens of ESSA state plans. New York: Author. Retrieved from http://ncos.iamempowered.


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