ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) Waiver
In 2012, SC applied to the US Department of Education and a received a waiver from the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The ESEA Waiver allows states the flexibility to develop a system for measuring school effectiveness and accountability. The waiver was good through 2015. Our state's most recent renewal request was approved by the USDE for a three-year period through the 2017-2018 school year. The ESEA Waiver Renewal addressed three required principles:
1. College- and Career-Ready Expectations for All Students
- SC's new English Language Arts and Mathematics Standards were approved in March 2015 and have been recognized as high-quality standards that will ensure students are prepared for college and the workplace. Along with the new standards, high-quality assessments that measure student growth will be administered.
2. State-Developed Differentiated Recognition, Accountability, and Support
- This principle permits districts and schools to have flexibility in developing an accountability system that incentivizes and rewards continuous growth. By not over identifying schools in need of assistance, funds can be channeled toward schools most in need of support, interventions, and teaching staff.
3. Support of Effective Instruction and Leadership
- Through this principle, academic growth of all students is addressed in the evaluation of teachers and principals. Student growth measures will be calculated using Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) and EVASS. Teachers will also receive ongoing feedback through their careers with information observations and formal evaluations.
New Standards Information (Principle 1)
Review of Standards
In SC standards are reviewed and updated on a cyclical basis. Therefore, teachers should always refer to the SC Department of Education site http://ed.sc.gov/agency/ccr/Standards-Learning/ for the most up-to-date information about standards and support documents. The new science standards were developed as a result of the normal cyclical review process and the SCCCR ELA and Mathematics Standards were developed as a result of Act 200.
New Science Standards
In 2014, new science standards were adopted for kindergarten through eighth grade and in the following high school subject areas: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Earth Science. The SC Department of Education has developed a curriculum guide as well as crosswalk documents from the 2005 standards to the new 2014 standards. These standards include Science and Engineering Practices that should be paired with the content addressed in the standards. Full implementation and assessment of the 2014 South Carolina Academic Standards and Performance Indicators for Science is scheduled for the 2016-17 school year. However, teachers and schools are encouraged to begin incorporating new areas in their grade bands and science and engineering practices now, to allow time for teachers to gain expertise prior to those areas being assessed.
New SC College and Career Ready ELA & Mathematics Standards
These standards are designed to address the Profile of the SC Graduate. To do so, the standards-writing teams developed portraits of the South Carolina student who is college- and career-ready in English language arts and mathematics. The portraits address: Academic Success and Employability; Interdependent Thinking and Collaborative Spirit; Intellectual Integrity and Curiosity; Logical Reasoning; Self-Reliance and Autonomy; and Effective Communication
The SCCCR-ELA standards focus on implementing Inquiry-Based Literacy Standards to support teachers in structuring a classroom environment in which students can routinely and systematically engage in the process of inquiry in all grade levels. The Inquiry-Based Literacy Standards should be infused within and across all content areas and disciplines and are the responsibility of the entire school community. These standards work in concert with Disciplinary Literacy and should be viewed as a system or structure which supports student learning rather than being perceived as steps which lead to the development of a one-time research paper or project. (SCCCR-ELA Standards, p. 8).
The SCCCR-M standards also focus on the incorporation of Mathematical Process Standards to demonstrate the ways in which students develop conceptual understanding of mathematical content and apply mathematical skills. As a result, the SCCCR Mathematical Process Standards should be integrated within the SCCCR Content Standards for Mathematics for each grade level and course. Since the process standards drive the pedagogical component of teaching and serve as the means by which students should demonstrate understanding of the content standards, the process standards must be incorporated as an integral part of overall student expectations when assessing content understanding. (SCCCR-M Standards, p. 12-13)
State Assessments (Principle 1)
The past year brought unprecedented changes to assessment in South Carolina, and there are still more changes ahead for the upcoming year. While there are mandates for state assessments at certain grade levels and in specific subjects, our primary assessment for accountability purposes in grades 3 through 8 and high school have not been selected for the upcoming school year. SDPC also gives additional assessments to provide data that helps us monitor students' progress and make adjustments to curriculum and instruction. SDPC publishes assessment guidelines for schools regarding these assessments. Updated assessments guidelines will be posted on the instructional services page by August of each year and revised accordingly when testing windows and final decisions are announced by the SCDE.
School/District Report Card (Principle 2)
Since 2012, districts and schools have operated under two accountability systems and have received two separate report cards. The first report card was developed under the Education Accountability Act of 1998 as means of holding schools accountable for the performance of students. Schools and districts were rated based on student achievement and student growth and other factors were reported. The "ESEA" report card was first published in 2012 and rated schools with numerical and letter grades. The metrics behind each report card's rating and scoring system were different, so the state and federal report cards often caused confusion.
The ESEA flexibility allows SC the opportunity to merge the two systems into a unified system. However, changing the state system will require further legislative action. The goal is align all systems to support the Profile of SC Graduate, but more work is needed before that system can be finalized. For now the SCDE requested a "pause" year for 2014-2015, so no new ratings will be assigned, and the 2014 ratings will be retained. Spring 2015 data (new assessments in ASPIRE and ACT) will be used to establish baselines and that data is being analyzed to determine where the Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) for each grade level and subject area should be set. The SCDE projects that process to be complete in time to submit the amended information in January 2016. For the upcoming year, the 2012-2014 system will remain in place with certain amendments (i.e. removing rating labels A-F, adding dashboard of measures), the implementation of a "pause" year, and the recalibration of AMOs.
Act 200 of 2014 requires that SC develop a new system by 2016-2017. At present, the plans are for the new system is to communicate more than a single, simplified rating. The system will focus on the following elements: