The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was passed in December 2015. Since then, educators and education vendors alike have been working toward compliance by the 2017-18 implementation deadline. If you were counting on the new administration to delay ESSA’s implementation, then you’re out of luck. While some of the ESSA rules and regulations are open to amendment, the law itself is here to say, and the timeline for transitioning from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is written into it.
That timeline is quickly winding down despite the fact that many of the regulations that govern ESSA were only just released in December 2016. Schools and districts are currently in a state of limbo: they’re finishing the school year under NCLB and planning budgets for next school year under ESSA. With that transition will come changes to education in every state, every district and every school. In an essence, ESSA changes everything.
Those changes will greatly impact education vendors like you, too. Where schools get funds to purchase products will change. What educators need from vendors also will evolve, along with how vendors must communicate with customers in education. Some companies may see this as a major challenge; we consider it an exciting opportunity to partner more closely with schools and districts to help them navigate the changes ESSA is guaranteed to bring.
Here are three examples of how that collaboration might look:
ESSA shifts many responsibilities back to states. Among them includes the creation of state accountability plans.
It’s important that education vendors that partner with school districts are well-informed about each of the plans submitted by each of the states in which they do business — or plan to. Unfortunately, there is no central database in which to locate these individual accountability plans. Instead, visit the state education agency website for more information or a copy of the submitted plan.
The lack of a master federal accountability plan places even more importance on marketing segmentation and personalization. When planning your communications surrounding standards and accountability, a one-size-fits-all email simply won’t do. Consider investing in marketing automation software that allows you to customize your messaging to the specific academic standards and accountability plans in each of the states you’re marketing to. This tailored approach will prove to educators that you’re knowledgeable in ESSA’s new requirements and well-equipped to help them navigate the changes — a selling point that could lead to increased brand trust and loyalty, and, ultimately, to higher response, lead generation and conversion.
Goals & Data
In addition to creating their own accountability plans, states will be responsible for selecting short- and long-term goals and systems for tracking accountability. Because each state is responsible for defining their own goals, there will be differences state-to-state in how educators establish, follow and measure those goals. However, every state will be required to report data to the federal government establishing how schools and districts are progressing.
Data plays a significant role in ESSA, and vendors can help educators with data requirements. First, if you haven’t already started, plan how to measure the impact your product or service has on factors such as test scores or the learning environment. Once you know the data behind your product’s impact, review your value proposition to determine if it needs revisions in order to clearly communicate that impact to educators.
Under ESSA, the formulas surrounding low-performing schools have changed. Evidence — and how it’s measured — now plays a significant role in the turnaround of schools that fall within the bottom five percent.
Under NCLB, research-based methodology used to be sufficient for education vendors to do business with schools and districts. Now it’s the lowest level of evidence required (Tier 4), and is only enough to conduct a pilot or incorporate a product, program or solution into an initiative. In order to move to Tier 3, that initiative must be tested with scientific rigor to determine if positive gains can be achieved. If so, the initiative can be moved out to school sites, but not district-wide. And if that success continues and you can demonstrate that the product, program or service has impact, only then can you reach the Tier 1 definition of evidence that allows districts to use your offering at a broader level. As a vendor, it’s important to know that districts with many low-performing schools may encounter hurdles in implementing your product, program or service on a broad level without sufficient evidence of its effectiveness.
This blog post was inspired by an EdWeb webinar that took place February 1, 2017. For more about ESSA, watch our ESSA webinars online, and keep an eye on our website for updates.