Rep. Polis discusses ESSA plan with Colorado’s central Hub Committee
DENVER – Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, who helped write the new federal education law, spoke on Monday to a Colorado committee created to oversee the development of the state’s plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
The Hub committee made up of about 20 members from the community, legislature and Colorado State Board of Education learned Polis’ perspectives on ESSA that was passed with bipartisan support and signed into law by President Obama in December.
Polis, a past member of the Colorado State Board of Education, explained the current status of the federal law and planned next steps for final adoption and appropriations. He also affirmed that ESSA must work in coordination with existing state laws. The federal law gives states and districts more flexibility, but Colorado’s legislature has passed robust education laws that already direct how ESSA can be implemented here.
“I think (the legislation) will hopefully encourage creativity at both the state legislature and state board about steps they can take to better fulfill the intent of ESSA – which is essentially a civil rights bill to ensure we have transparency in our public schools and that all students succeed,” Polis said.
All states, including Colorado, must develop a plan on how to implement ESSA by next year. The Colorado State Board of Education is expected to receive a draft of the state’s ESSA plan by early 2017 with delivery to the U.S. Department of Education in the spring.
In its monthly meetings, the state’s Hub committee will hear from spoke committees formed around specific topics and will learn about critical decision points. On Monday, Hub members heard from Assessment, Effective Instruction and Leadership as well as an overview of Title Programs impacted by ESSA.
Joyce Zurkowski, executive director of the Assessment unit for the Colorado Department of Education, explained the required exams under ESSA, the state’s participation trends, key changes between ESSA and the previous federal No Child Left Behind Act and proposed regulations under ESSA that allow states to pilot innovative approaches to assessments.
Colleen O’Neil, executive director of the state’s Educator Preparation, Licensing and Educator Effectiveness unit, presented the key decision points for Colorado, including identifying educator definitions for “experienced/inexperienced” teachers, “in-field/out-of-field” teachers and “effective/ineffective” teachers.
Pat Chapman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Education’s Federal Programs unit, gave an overview of the Title Programs that will be applied to parts of Colorado’s ESSA plan, including the purpose of the programs, how much money is received by the state and districts and the funding flow. A deeper discussion about these issues will occur in the November meeting.
Next Hub meeting: Noon, Monday, Nov. 7, State Board Room, 201 E. Colfax Ave. Denver