The following post was written by Lexi Barrett, America Forward’s Policy Director.
Today, the Senate passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), historic legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The ESSA includes an exciting new provision championed by America Forward to include postsecondary enrollment on high school report cards. Because of this new provision millions more parents, students and educators will be able to make decisions informed by how well their high schools are sending students to college. The data will also enable more results-driven conversations in states and school districts, helping to target limited resources to the schools that need the most support.
Earlier this year, the America Forward Education Task Force finalized its ESEA Policy Platform outlining its priorities for ESEA reauthorization, including pushing forward on accountability and transparency, with a focus on postsecondary enrollment rates, and attention on low-performing schools and low-performing subgroups of students.
In July, America Forward also worked with Sens. Capito (R-WV) and Durbin (D-IL) on an amendment during Senate consideration of ESEA reauthorization that would require state and local educational agencies to include on their annual report cards the cohort rate of high school graduates who enroll in a program of public postsecondary education in the state. The provision also encourages states to report the same enrollment data, if available and to the extent practicable, for private postsecondary programs in the state and public or private programs outside the state.
We are pleased that this language was retained in the final version of the Congressionally-approved Every Student Succeeds Act.
Why does this matter?
Because of this new provision in the law that makes key data transparent, millions more parents, students and educators will be able to make decisions informed by how well their high schools are sending students to college. Parents and students deserve to know how well their high schools are preparing students to enter and succeed in postsecondary programs and including these simple, easy to understand outcome measures on state and local report cards will provide them with that information.
In addition, the data will also enable more results-driven conversations in states and school districts, helping to target limited resources to the schools that need the most support. Low-income students perform better academically in high schools focused on postsecondary outcomes, and ninety-two percent of high school educators say having data on students’ academic performance in postsecondary institutions is critical for evaluating the effectiveness of high school curriculum/instruction.
America Forward Coalition Member Spotlight: College Summit
Regarding this new provision, America Forward Coalition Member College Summit has been a key champion for this policy shift. College Summit’s CEO & Co-Founder, Keith Frome, Ed.D, said “The ESSA language requiring, where the data is available, each State to report the post-secondary enrollment rates for every high school, is a true cause for celebration. When this language is signed into law, we will have finally reached consensus as a nation on the post-secondary purpose of the American high school. We will have acknowledged that high school graduation is now a launchpad to postsecondary success; it is no longer the endpoint.”
America Forward thanks all members of the Education Task Force for supporting this important new piece of the Every Student Succeeds Act, as well as partners from the education, business, and civil rights community that joined us in calling for this change. The America Forward Coalition looks forward to working with the Administration on the implementation of this provision and the broad ESSA.
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