ASHA Weighs in on ESSA—And You Can, Too What will the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) mean for school-based audiologists and speech-language pathologists? The answer depends on how your state decides to implement the law. As the federal Department of Education acts to implement ESSA—passed in December 2015 and effective beginning with the 2017–2018 school year—the time ... News in Brief
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News in Brief  |   September 01, 2016
ASHA Weighs in on ESSA—And You Can, Too
Author Notes
  • Catherine D. Clarke is ASHA director of education and regulatory advocacy. cclarke@asha.org
    Catherine D. Clarke is ASHA director of education and regulatory advocacy. cclarke@asha.org×
Article Information
ASHA News & Member Stories / News in Brief
News in Brief   |   September 01, 2016
ASHA Weighs in on ESSA—And You Can, Too
The ASHA Leader, September 2016, Vol. 21, 8-9. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB1.21092016.8
The ASHA Leader, September 2016, Vol. 21, 8-9. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB1.21092016.8
What will the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) mean for school-based audiologists and speech-language pathologists? The answer depends on how your state decides to implement the law.
As the federal Department of Education acts to implement ESSA—passed in December 2015 and effective beginning with the 2017–2018 school year—the time is ripe for ASHA members to act locally to ensure that their services and supports are acknowledged and included in the act’s regulations.
ESSA updates federal education law, originally enacted as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1965 and updated in 2001 as No Child Left Behind.
The most significant change concerns accountability: ESSA puts states and local districts in charge of decisions on student testing and accountability for students’ academic progress. It also eliminates the previous construct of “adequate yearly progress” toward 100-percent proficiency in certain subjects.
The Department of Education released its proposed rule in May to address the law’s accountability, data reporting and state plan provisions. Stakeholders had 60 days to submit comments. The final rule is expected to be released by the end of the year.
Accountability indicators
In comments, ASHA strongly advocated for audiologists’ and SLPs’ involvement in decision-making about accountability frameworks, recommending that the process include specialized instructional support personnel (SISP)—the new name for pupil services personnel, which includes audiologists and SLPs.
Participation in assessments
ASHA supports assessing all students and subgroups of students to ensure that parents and educators have information to support all students in meeting academic standards. Statewide accountability systems should include students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who take alternate assessments based on alternate academic achievement standards. Recently arrived English-learners should take the state’s English-language proficiency assessment or reading/language arts assessment. However, ASHA disagrees with including former English-learners (up to four years) in the English learner subgroup, as these higher-performing students may mask subgroup performance and inadvertently penalize children who need greater support.
Appropriate evaluations
ASHA recommends that evaluation programs include appropriate evaluation systems for SISP, including audiologists and SLPs—such as ASHA’s Performance Assessment of Contributions and Effectiveness (PACE). ASHA also recommends using recruitment and retention strategies—professional development opportunities, workload management, compensation and mentoring, for example—for SISP.

Take a look at your state’s department of education website for information on the state process and timelines for ESSA implementation, and for ways to engage with state policymakers, other organizations, administrators, principals and teaching organizations.

Your role, locally
ESSA requires states to consult with various stakeholders, including SISP, when they develop their implementation plans. ASHA members can provide information to the states on plans for professional learning, literacy, early intervening services, and assessments of children with disabilities.
Take a look at your state’s department of education website for information on the state process and timelines for ESSA implementation, and for ways to engage with state policymakers, other SISP organizations, administrators, principals and teaching organizations. You can also volunteer with your state speech-language-hearing association to serve on committees and task forces helping develop the state’s plan.
More information is available from the Department of Education and in ASHA’s free downloadable resource, “Every Student Succeeds Act: Key Issues for ASHA Members,” a guide to help state association leaders, education advocates and school-based members get involved in the implementation process.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
September 2016
Volume 21, Issue 9