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Changes to education regulations could impact W. Va. school systems


The Exponent Telegram

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State officials who support consistent guidelines from the federal government said a recent vote to overturn education regulations could affect students, teachers and school systems around West Virginia.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to overturn two education regulations — the Every Student Succeeds Act and a teacher preparation rule. Both regulations were enacted under President Barack Obama’s administration, and their overhaul could change how state officials evaluate school performances and programs to train K-12 teachers.

If the Every Student Succeeds Act is overturned, rules regarding school ratings, timelines for identifying and intervening in struggling schools and school quality indicators will be impacted.

“The Every Student Succeeds Act is a great way to measure student success and identify schools that are struggling, while doing it through multiple measures,” said Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association. “I am in favor of the Every Student Succeeds Act because of those multiple measures.”

Lee said federal guidelines require assessments to track the progress of schools, students and teachers. He said the state primarily focuses on information gathered from test scores.

Lee added that he wasn’t enamored with the No Child Left Behind act, simply because it focused primarily on a single test.

“While the new state board seems to be moving away from testing students as often as they have, having these ESSA guidelines allows for a more diversified curriculum rather than a test-driven curriculum,” he said. “However, any difference in measuring student and school progress could be a large change for the state.”

The teacher preparation rule, which ensures new instructors are classroom-ready across the nation, requires states to issue annual ratings for teacher-prep programs, with low-performing programs losing eligibility for federal student aid.

Delegate Richard Iaquinta, D-Harrison, said as an educator, seeing new changes so often in education is disheartening.

Iaquinta added that the changes are disruptive both for teachers and students.

“The changes in education are divisive and upsetting to most classroom teachers because they don’t know how long certain rules will be in place — for instance No Child Left Behind and the requirements for special education,” he said. “When the federal government keeps changing the rules and regulations, it is disappointing.”

While the U.S. Senate has yet to act on the matter, Iaquinta said he is hoping for stability for education in the future.

Education hasn’t been consistent for a long time now, he said. Iaquinta added that he looks forward to seeing what the new state school board has in mind for testing and accountability.

For the aforementioned rules to be reversed, the Senate must vote to overturn them and the president must then sign the resolutions into law.

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