ESSA Implementation in States and School Districts: Perspectives from Education Leaders
Testimony of Delia Pompa, Senior Fellow in Education Policy, before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions for the February 23, 2016 hearing on the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
"Thank you Chairman Alexander, Ranking Member Murray and members of the Committee for providing me the opportunity to present testimony. My name is Delia Pompa; I am a Senior Fellow for Education Policy at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, DC that analyzes U.S. and international migration trends and policies. Within MPI, the National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy (NCIIP) does significant work in the education arena, examining and analyzing the changing demographics of the U.S. PreK-12 student population and major challenges facing local, state and federal policymakers and program managers as they seek to respond to the needs of diverse immigrant and English Learner (EL) children.
My work in public school improvement has been shaped by many years of experience leading local, state and federal agencies and national and international organizations. I began my career as a kindergarten teacher in San Antonio and went on to serve as a district administrator in Houston and as Assistant Commissioner of the Texas Education Agency. I was formerly the Director of Education, Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention and Youth Development for the Children’s Defense Fund and Director of the Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Language Affairs at the U.S. Department of Education. Immediately prior to my work at MPI, I was Senior Vice President for Programs at the National Council of La Raza.
I have deep respect for the bipartisan process led by Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray that resulted in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which promises to ensure equity while fostering innovation and excellence. The primary responsibility for making that promise a reality rests squarely on the shoulders of states and districts, which have been given greater authority under ESSA to interpret the new mandates. But they can’t do it alone. It is critical that the regulatory process ensure that states and districts keep equity, particularly accountability for the progress of all students, at the core of their work and ensure that states and districts engage a wide range of stakeholders in developing and implementing their new accountability and school improvement plans.
In addition, it is important to recognize the great advancement that ESSA could make with respect to English learners in K-12 classrooms. ESSA includes important policies that recognize the needs and diversity of ELs in an effort to close the ongoing achievement gap between them and other students. The bill also crucially improves accountability for how ELs are achieving—an expansion of the last reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). ESSA responds to the reality that ELs are a large and growing part of the U.S. public school population. Given ESSA’s overall thrust of reducing federal authority in education, however, ensuring that EL needs are met will be complicated by the fact that education agencies in 50 states and the District of Columbia will be interpreting the new mandates and perhaps implementing them differently.[...]"