Public input wanted for Iowa's version of The Every Student Succeeds Act

Published: Nov. 9, 2016 at 9:34 PM CST
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More control to local educators: that's the goal behind The Every Student Succeeds Act.

President Obama signed the law last year. It's a revision of No Child Left Behind.

The biggest change is the new education law gives more power to the states.

The new law is already impacting Iowa districts and their students, specifically those who attend struggling schools. Under No Child Left Behind districts had to set aside money to provide free tutoring to low income students. It also forced schools to bus kids to higher performing schools if their parents asked. With the new federal law, fewer kids are eligible for free tutoring, and students can't transfer out of struggling schools, unless they did so last year.

The Every Child Succeeds Act will fully roll out next school year. But before that, many steps need to happen. That's why the Iowa Department of Education is holding public input meetings across the state.

Iowa needs to set standards for schools with the new law. It also needs to have a way to hold low performing schools accountable.

Under No Child Left Behind the federal government determined which schools were failing, now the states will take on that role.

The Director of Iowa's Department of Education explained the act to about 50 educators in Cedar Falls Wednesday night. He said the new law doesn't eliminate standardized testing, which was a cornerstone of No Child Left Behind.

Children in third through eighth grades still have to take math and reading tests every year.

Students have to take these tests twice while in high school.

"Assessment and testing are critically important but it needs to be in balance. And it needs to make sense. We need to know how students are doing and where they need support and assessment should in line with what's being taught in the classroom," Director Ryan Wise said.

The State Department of Education says it will take this input to make a draft version of the state law this January. More public input meetings will be held after this. The final proposal will be made in March.