Education advocates, policymakers, and practitioners gathered in New Orleans for an exciting two-day conference that focused on the next phase of ESSA – implementation. The National Urban League, Affiliate leadership, community partners and national partners alike, convened to examine and strategize on how best to advocate for children as ESSA is implemented across the country.

Since last year’s convening in late October, states have received feedback from the federal Department of Education on their plans, received approval and have begun the process of developing district plans and the report cards that will be developed for each school in every district.

The first day of the convening opened with a briefing from the Collaborative for Student Success and HCM Strategists that examined the collaborative peer review of 17 state school improvement plans (attach presentation). After learning about trends in implementation, attendees worked together to outline a vision of equity under ESSA. Some of the solutions they believe will lead to equity include:

  • Our schools addressing the disproportionate suspension and expulsion rate of African American students as a factor in equity
  • Diversifying the teacher population so that our educators reflect who ins in the classroom
  • More students are taking the SAT and ACT earlier
  • Providing wraparound services that provide academic and socioemotional support to students
  • Creating more paths for student success outside of the traditional four-year college or university

Phillip Lovell, Vice President of Policy Development and Government Relations for the Alliance for Excellent Education, and Susie Feliz, Vice President of Policy and Legislative Affairs for the National Urban League Washington Bureau, highlighted the need to include subgroups in the state development of district plans so that performance of students of color can be properly reflected in school report cards.

The day concluded with breakout sessions from the Education Trust, the Results Education Group, NYU Metro Center and the Learning Policy Institute.

The convening closed with findings from The New Teacher Project’s study, The Opportunity Myth, a discussion on how to partner with local superintendents to prepare for district planning and implementation, a spotlight on socioemotional learning for students of color and an educator briefing from Kelisa Wing, the Department of Defense Education Activity 2017 teacher of the year, and Jose Vision of EduColor.

See the presentations coming out of our convening below.