The Council of Great City Schools 2017 District Operations Performance Measurement and Benchmarking Report from Fiscal Year 2015-16 is now live! Download here

ESSA RoadMaps: What You Need to Know for ESSA Compliance

By Alyssa Thornley | October 9, 2017

Transact RoadMaps are a compliance and guidance component of TransACT Parent Notices subscriptions that existing subscribers can access at any time. RoadMaps use a series of yes/no questions to guide educators through the process of determining which parent notices are required to send out in a particular time period or situation. This helps educators to create a list of notices they need based on the unique characteristics of their school and/or school district. RoadMaps are a helpful, time-saving compliance tool for:

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USED Regulation Review Targets Student and Parent Rights under FERPA

By Dr. David Holbrook | October 6, 2017

In July 2017 I wrote a blog about the U.S. Department of Education (USED) requesting comments on regulatory reform. The reason for the USED action is Trump’s executive order requiring each federal agency to establish a Regulatory Reform Task Force to evaluate existing regulations and make recommendations regarding their repeal, replacement, or modification.

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Performance Reports for School District Operations

By Phillip Smith | September 21, 2017

For the past decade, district operations leaders have shown that measuring and analyzing the performance of district operations can help create a high-performing, efficiently operating district that directly impacts student achievement. While there are any number of items a district operations leader can measure within their district, a focus on analyzing rigorous and proven Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in areas such as transportation, food services, maintenance, and business services departments across the district is proving to be pivotal in meeting the mission to cut costs and positively impact student outcomes. The Council of Great City Schools (CGCS) has developed a framework and an annual report to support operations leaders across the country in adopting KPI analysis in their districts.

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ESSA State Plan Submissions: 4 States Receive Deadline Extension

By Dr. David Holbrook | September 20, 2017

If a State wants funding that comes through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESEA/ESSA), then it must submit an "ESSA State Plan" that describes how it will use that funding to benefit students in that State. The two deadlines to submit ESSA State Plans were April 3, 2017 and September 18, 2017, but not all states have submitted their plans.

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Parent Conference Forms Can Help Increase Parent Attendance in Required Meetings

By Dr. David Holbrook | September 14, 2017

Parent participation is an essential component to academic growth and achievement. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015 considers parent participation so pivotal that sixteen different types of meetings are defined throughout the law. In this blog and in our free ebook, "The Parent Participation Form for Parent Meetings: What You Need To Know", we discuss best practices for raising participation in parent meetings, and review the components of an effective meeting notification.

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Education Rights for Undocumented Students Unaffected by Trump Cancelling DACA

By Dr. David Holbrook | September 8, 2017

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA is an Obama-era executive action that provides protections to undocumented immigrants that were brought into the U.S. when they were under age 16. The rationale behind DACA is that children cannot be held responsible for the actions of the adults that brought them into the U.S. and without some protections they could face dire circumstances.

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Food Services in School Cafeterias - 3 KPIs to Track

By Phillip Smith | September 7, 2017

In 2004, the Council of Great City Schools (CGCS) began its mission to provide school district operations leaders with a framework for measuring and improving their district's performance. One department that sees a particular uplift from regular performance measurement and adjustment is food services. Child Nutrition Services are a fundamental component of the services that school districts provide to their students, and they can have a measurable impact on student achievement. However, it is challenging to balance meeting nutrition standards for school meals, encourage students to participate in meal programs, and prove that programs are affordable and profitable.

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English Language Proficiency Standards and Reading/Language Arts Content Standards: What’s the Difference?

By Dr. David Holbrook | August 14, 2017

Over the years that I have worked with students learning English (English learners or ELs), I have met a number of well-meaning educators and parents that don't understand the difference between English Language Proficiency (ELP) standards and English content standards also know as reading/language arts content standards. For some parents and educators that don't have training or experience working with ELs, the idea that there are two types of English standards is confusing. 

So, I (and a number of my colleagues) was glad to see that the U.S Department of Education (USED) recently published guidance that specifically addressed this issue. 

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Increased Rigor for Content Standards Impacts the Amount of Students in EL Programs

By Dr. David Holbrook | August 11, 2017

Education Week recently published an article about the increased rigor in the new English Language Proficiency (ELP) test (assessment) ACCESS 2.0. ACCESS 2.0 is the ELP test made available through the WIDA consortium. According to the EdWeek article, and several other articles that have been published on this topic, significantly fewer English Learners (ELs) tested proficient in English on ACCESS 2.0 in comparison to previous years when the previous version of this test was used.

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Can ESEA (ESSA) Funds be used to Pay EL Teacher’s Salaries?

By Dr. David Holbrook | August 2, 2017

When I was employed at a state department of education, I monitored school districts for compliance with ESEA requirements for both Title I and Title III. I also contracted with the U.S. Department of Education (USED) and helped USED monitor Title III in five states. One of the most common English Learner (EL) program monitoring issues I found was an improper use of Title I or Title III funds to pay for the salaries of teachers working in a district’s core “language instruction educational program” (LIEP), also know as an EL program.

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