School & District Management

Principals and Superintendents Are Still Getting to Know ESSA

By Andrew Ujifusa — May 05, 2016 1 min read
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This post first appeared on the Politics K-12 blog.

For some Beltway policy wonks and advocates, it may seem like a long time ago since President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act last December. But for many principals and superintendents, the new law’s details seem to be taking awhile to fully sink in.

On Thursday, our colleague Catherine Gewertz wrote up the findings of a survey about testing commissioned by the Northwest Evaluation Association and conducted by Gallup Education. The survey focused on the attitudes of principals and superintendents as well as parents about assessment—but for those curious about how folks feel about ESSA, there’s fodder in the findings as well.

Let’s look at how familiar principals and superintendents feel they are with the new federal education law:

So that’s a majority (55 percent) of superintendents and just 41 percent of principals who say they’re either “familiar” or “very familiar” with the new law. Should we be surprised that the numbers aren’t higher in both cases? Not really, says David DeSchryver, the senior vice president and co-director of Whiteboard Advisors, a Washington consulting group.

“This stuff takes time. I’d say that school officials have years of experience focusing on the work before them. Eventually, the directives come down and they adjust,” DeSchryver told us in an email.

Here are a few other ESSA-related findings:

• 48 percent of superintendents believe that ESSA will have a positive impact on their districts, and 5 percent believe it will have a very positive impact. Meanwhile, 43 percent believe ESSA will be neutral, and 4 percent believe ESSA will hurt their districts.

• Principals seem somewhat less sanguine—the majority (62 percent) believe ESSA will ultimately be neutral, while 29 percent believe it will be a positive. ESSA will be very positive for their schools, according to 3 percent of respondents, while 6 percent believe the law will be negative.

• Principals in low-income schools are more likely (77 percent) than their peers in middle- and high-income schools (65 percent) to say that their students spend too much time taking tests.

For the survey, Gallup examined the attitudes of 4,200 students, parents, teachers, principals, and superintendents.

There’s a lot more to that report, so dig in below:

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.