On September 18, OSPI submitted the state ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) plan.  This Plan is a requirement of the 2015 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The intent of ESSA is to “provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close the achievement gap.”  This goal aligns well with the OSPI/AESD Network Initiatives and recently developed program evaluation accountability system.

The Washington ESSA plan addresses the opportunity gaps and promotes equitable access and opportunity for all students regardless of background, household income, or race/ethnicity.  It places its focus on system and student success through an integrated model of federal, state, regional, and local collaboration.  To address this collaboration, OSPI developed the Office of System and School Improvement.

The Office of System and School Improvement will provide teacher and school leader professional training as part of the OSPI/AESD Network. The first of these trainings will occur on October 17 as part of the SILT (Statewide Initiative Leadership Team) year-long training. Participants will include OSPI and ESD assistant superintendents, directors, and Network Initiative program coordinators.

SILT training will be facilitated by OSPI and AESD leadership and will focus on research-based effective teacher and school leader professional learning strategies. These strategies will be embedded in the OSPI/AESD Network Initiatives coordinator and teacher Fellows training throughout the year.

Research consistently points to the importance of human capital – namely, teachers and leaders – in schools, particularly in struggling schools.  One key lesson from the past decades of system and school improvement research is that an explicit focus on improving the capacity and stability of teachers and leaders in difficult schools would benefit these schools and student learning.  Schools can never be any stronger or more effective than the adults who work in them – especially true for chronically challenging schools.

Schools that turn around a history of low performance have strong leaders; have engaged and collaborative teachers; use data to drive instruction; endorse high standards for each/all students; and have coherent, rigorous, and focused instructional programs.  Successful turnaround schools concentrate on quick wins that build momentum for change and a belief that systems and school can and will be better.

With the recent submission of the OSPI/Washington ESSA plan, the responsibility for system and school improvement is focused on an integrated model of federal, state, regional, and local collaboration.  The most important component for school turnaround are highly effective teachers and leaders working together collaboratively.

This collaboration is modeled in the OSPI/AESD Network Initiatives system and the professional learning opportunities available throughout the year through coordinator and teacher Fellows training.

The OSPI/AESD Network Initiatives program is off to a strong beginning for 2017-18 with the help of the Statewide Initiatives Leadership Team, support from the Office of Systems and School Improvement, and the integration of this work into each of the four content Initiatives: math, science, ELA, and early learning.