Why This Work Matters

States and districts across the nation are making changes.

As they implement these important changes, meant to ensure that all students are receiving a high-quality education and that schools are continuously improving, we’re working to make sure that states stick to their high standards, are administering high-quality, aligned assessments, and are developing and implementing strong systems of accountability.

Focusing on these key issues will allow states to set their students up for success during their K-12 careers and beyond.

HIGH STANDARDS

Most states have adopted high standards in math and English language arts – recognizing that by setting high expectations, students will rise to the occasion, and ensuring that students graduate high school ready for success at whatever they choose to pursue next. These high standards have also helped usher in an era of greater comparability among states and school districts, providing parents and teachers with more accurate information to support their children’s learning.

Today, nearly every state has set challenging classroom expectations aligned to college and career readiness. As states continue to review and tailor their standards to ensure they meet their students’ unique needs, we continue to advocate for high standards in all states. Moving away from high standards for all students only serves to endanger the ability of students to move from high school to the future of their choosing.

HIGH-QUALITY, ALIGNED ASSESSMENTS

Annual assessments provide vital information for parents, teachers, and students about how students are progressing academically – bringing to light how individual students are faring, and whether schools are meeting the needs of all students. These statewide assessments provide valuable information, not only to schools and policy makers who use it to inform and improve education policies, but more importantly to teachers who incorporate the information into their strategy with individual students in the classroom, and to parents who deserve transparent information about their child’s performance.

Parents who choose to opt their child out of assessments are:

  • Surrendering the opportunity to have an objective snapshot of how their child is developing academically in his or her K-12 journey.
  • Denying their student’s teachers, this year and next, the opportunity to measure what skills and subjects their child is adept at, and to discover where he or she needs extra help.
  • Robbing their student’s school of the ability to have complete information when comparing performance to other schools in the district and state. As a result, state policymakers are unable to see where best to allocate additional funds and programs.

STRONG SYSTEMS OF ACCOUNTABILITY

Accountability is one of the strongest tools that a state has to ensure that all students are receiving a high-quality education. Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states were given an important opportunity to shape and customize an accountability plan that not just complies with the law, but advances educational opportunities in bold and innovative ways for all students. In many states, advocates worked tirelessly to review the plans and provide crucial feedback to state policymakers in hopes that these new plans will be ambitious, yet attainable.

Now that states are implementing plans approved by the U.S. Department of Education, it’s important to ensure that they are implementing those plans in a manner that ensures that students have access to an education that prepares them for success after high school, no matter where they grow up or go to school, and no matter which path in life they choose to pursue.