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Rhode Island Foundation Blog


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Every student succeeds
By / February 4, 2016 /   Loading Disqus...

On February 1st, 2016 the Rhode Island Foundation convened a group of education stakeholders to hear from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Board of Education Chairwoman Barbara Cottam and Elementary & Secondary Education Commissioner Ken Wagner about the new federal “Every Student Succeeds” Act. This piece of federal, bipartisan legislation was signed into law by President Obama in December of 2015 and replaces the previous “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001.

The two pieces of legislation hold similar goals – ensure all students graduate from America’s high schools on-time and ready for success in post-secondary and career settings – but they employ different strategies in pursuit of the mission. Both pieces of legislation require states to administer annual assessments of student proficiency in the third through eighth grades, but the new law allows states to experiment with the types of tests employed and how they are administered. Further, while No Child Left Behind prescribed a series of specific interventions for persistently low performing schools, the new law puts the responsibility on individual states to determine the measures we use to hold our schools accountable for student outcomes and the remedies we employ if they fail to meet them.

So, what does all of this mean for Rhode Island? In large part, it remains to be seen: as the state gains greater autonomy over its transformation strategies, more work will need to be done to articulate a clear approach for school improvement. We at the Rhode Island Foundation remain committed to working with a wide range of education stakeholders to advocate for policies that prioritize student achievement and the continued focus on equitable outcomes for students of all backgrounds.


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