School board approves contract to support ESSA standards


United States K-12 students now follow the laws enacted by ESSA rather than No Child Left Behind.

Hallie Spielman, Distribution Director

On Dec. 10, 2015 a new act was signed into legislation by former President Barack Obama. That act is known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA. Ever since that day, Freedom Area School District has been following this law and incorporating in some of its own beliefs.

ESSA replaced the well-known act No Child Left Behind (NCLB). After the Obama administration, educators and families urged for a better law to prepare students for college and careers.

The predecessor to ESSA, No Child Left Behind, focused on judging schools by test scores. ESSA is focused on a multitude of factors. The act has one main factor to focus on: future ready index, which has subcategories such as college or career readiness and chronic absenteeism.

“Pennsylvania submitted a plan saying we’re going to meet these expectations and the federal government has to decide is the plan that was presented okay,” said Misty Slavic, director of curriculum.

College or career readiness is the subcategory of school grading that focuses on helping students prepare for further education or careers with specific courses and many more. One part of this is that the school must now collect “career artefacts,” which are pieces of information about what a student wants to go into for their occupation.

In order to meet this requirement, the school has decided to use the program Naviance in order to keep track of student’s career data from whenever a student first starts kindergarten to the time that they graduate as students. This program will also be able to scan all existing documentation and upload it to the database so they can be found when needed.

Chronic absenteeism is the subcategory that punishes schools that have students that are absent for more than 15 days in a school year. However the major flaw is that chronic absenteeism doesn’t distinguish excused absences from unexcused absences.

To go along with ESSA, a group of faculty and one high school student helped create the Profile of a Bulldog. The Profile of a Bulldog has been created to shape ESSA in a way that reflects Freedom students and not just Freedom as an educational facility.

The Profile of a Bulldog covers five criterias: communication, innovation, collaboration, responsibility and perseverance.

Each part of the profile has its own criteria that has expectations to follow. For example with communication part of the profile involves being able to listen with an open mind to figure out meanings.

One of the bullets listed under responsibility is that students seek out excellence in their work by being organized, prepared, dependable and thorough.

An important bullet under perseverance is being about to persist to accomplish difficult tasks and to overcome any barriers to meet goals.

The five criterias of the Profile of a Bulldog lay hand-in-hand with ESSA in order to personalize ESSA to fit the hopes for Freedom Area District students.