Teacher Perspective: How I Hope California Implements the Every Student Succeeds Act

Earlier this month, the California Department of Education officials came to an agreement on how the state would abide by the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Signed by President Obama, the Every Student Succeeds Act was designed as a replacement for the No Child Left Behind Act. The No Child Left Behind Act used test scores as the primary indicator of whether or not schools within a state were meeting the requirements and educating every child. The main difference between it and the Every Student Succeeds Act, is that the latter allows for states to have more choice in how they are being evaluated and are given the freedom to create their own accountability systems. As a teacher in California, I know first hand the unique educational landscape of this state and appreciate the efforts of the State Board of Education to ensure the plan is tailored to meet the needs of our students and create measures of success that are also unique to California.

According to a recent article on the plan in the LA Times, “In 2017-18, California received $8.1 billion in K-12 funding from the federal government, $2.4 billion of which came from ESSA.”

The urgency to vote and begin implementing a plan to abide by the federal education law came from a possible delay in funding, which would have occurred as a consequence of not reaching a vote. The vote finally occurred after months of back and forth between the California Department of Education and Devos’ U.S. Department of Education. However, the California State Board of Education also wanted to further tailor the plan to fit the needs of our state. California is a unique state in that our education systems need to meet the demands of the large number of English learner students, as well as many other diverse needs our state has. In order to further support this, California has asked for a waiver from the Department of Education that would allow the state to define their own indicators of what success and growth for English learners looks like, instead of using the ones created by the Every Student Succeeds Act.

I appreciate the efforts of the State Board of Education to make sure the federal plan was designed and implemented in a way that is individualized for our state. Working in a school district that serves the highest needs student population, I would hope that the Board of Education works to further tailor the plan in order to meet the needs of each school district. With California being such a large state, it’s likely to have higher need school districts miles apart from higher performing, more affluent school districts. The same way I’m expected to meet the individual needs of the 30+ students I serve every day, and work tirelessly to do so, the Board of Education needs to keep the needs of different parts of the state in mind to implement this plan successfully. With the performance of our students in mind, the California State Board of Education should continue working towards meeting the individualized needs of the students of our great state.

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Daniela Felix

Daniela Felix

Daniela is a first generation college student who is heavily involved in education in her home district, West Contra Costa Unified. After becoming a mother at a young age, Daniela’s passion for education justice only intensified and she began to fight for an equitable education for all children, regardless of background or zip code. Daniela played a key role in organizing parents with the California Charter Schools Association and is a firm believer in school choice for all families. She is currently a Lead Organizer with Students for Education Reform, organizing college students around education justice issues in her home district. She was recently accepted into Teach for America and plans to continue impacting the lives of children in her hometown of Richmond, CA as a high school social studies teacher. Daniela is a UC Berkeley senior pursuing her B.A. in Legal Studies and Education along with her 4 year old daughter and husband. Daniela is a firm believer in that every single child is capable of meeting high expectations if given the correct support. Daniela hopes to be a provider of that support.

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