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ESSA’s Flexible Accountability Measures Give PE Teachers (And Entrepreneurs) Hope

It’s difficult to refute the impact of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) on America’s current educational landscape. Jeanne Allen, CEO and founder of the Center for Education Reform, reminded listeners of the law’s significance at a panel earlier this year, pointing out that before NCLB was passed, “there had never been a requirement to publish and disaggregate data down to the school level.”

Of course, it’s this data collection, and the associated standardized testing, that were among the most controversial issues associated with the law. The backlash at local, state and federal level paved the way for former President Barack Obama’s Every Student Succeeds Act (also known as ESSA) in 2015, a new national agenda on education which many experts agree returns power to the states and reduces the influence of standardized tests.

ESSA offers states flexibility by allowing them to customize measures of school quality and choose at least one non-test based indicator (also known as the 5th indicator) to measure student success. One of the gauges states are using is Physical Education (PE). In this year’s ESSA draft plans, Connecticut and Vermont both added PE as an indicator, paving the way for more funding and opening doors for external vendors.