ESSA to improve Wisconsin Schools

ESSA to improve Wisconsin Schools

The Every Student Succeeds Act goes into effect this week for Wisconsin School Districts.     

The legislation was part of the Obama administration's plan to eliminate No Child Left Behind.     

The plan is aimed to put the power in the hands of individual states and close the learning gap among students. 

Wisconsin schools are in the middle of starting a new plan for student success. 

"Our old approach was let's get them out of there and send them somewhere else," said Fran Finco, Onalaska Superintendent. 

La Crosse Central Spanish teacher and head of the teacher's association, John Havlicek, says the old system failed districts. 

"It was test and punish," Havlicek said. 

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was replaced when the Obama administration created the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015. 

The Onalaska School District says this new plan doesn't punish schools like No Child Left Behind. 

"Everybody loses their job and they reconstitute it and start all over," Finco said. 

Havlicek said No Child Left Behind zeroed in on numbers instead of students' needs. 

"It lead to gaming of the system and it didn't really focus on 'what do we know is best for kids and what are we going to do about that,'" Havlicek said. 

Under ESSA, Wisconsin school districts have to come up with a plan individually in order to set achievable goals for school performance. 

The Wisconsin Department of Instruction put together an equity council of diverse educational leaders to create a fair and impartial strategy.  

Onalaska superintendent Fran Finco says the new system focuses on challenging struggling school districts instead of eliminating them.

"We are going to help you get better and we are going to continue to help you get better until you do get better," Finco said. 

Finco said ESSA gives kids of all backgrounds a chance to learn. 

"It focuses on all the kids that aren't learning and it says how are we going to get to those kids," Finco said. 

Havlicek said teachers also have to make an effort to reach students will special needs. 

"I need to challenge my biases I need to get better at reaching those kids. When we can do that, those gaps are going to start to disappear," Havlicek said. 

Finco said, It's about patience and dedication. 

"You have to make a concerted effort to get to every child," Finco said.  

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