Get the right tools to move from NCLB to ESSA

What technology can you adopt to ensure you seamlessly transition into the new ESSA era?

With the changeover from NCLB to ESSA, (Every Student Succeeds Act) two new funding streams will be made available to schools and districts that support the use of effective education technology. 

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The two funding streams will come in the form of block grants. 

With new funding streams becoming available and with the changes that ESSA brings with it... how can you use those funds in order to set your school and district up for success?

The change in education law will more than likely impact your curriculum or instructional model in some way. 

The amount of importance placed on formative assessments might necessitate changes to the instructional model that you employ, the content you use and the tools and technology you adopt.

Instructional Model and Content

Unlike summative assessments which almost always come in the form of a test; formative assessments come in many different forms. Some examples are:

  • Summaries and reflections (Dry erase boards and FactStorming)
  • Collaborative activities (Carousel brainstorming)
  • Graphic organizers (Top Ten lists and a Matrix)
  • Visual representations (Flipbooks and Smart cards)

This variety allows the teacher to be creative in how the assessments are given and will also tap into various strengths and weaknesses of their students.

Formative assessments are foundational to newer instructional models like Blended Learning, where the student has some sort of control of the pace, time, place and path of their learning experience. Blended Learning models also include a mix of both traditional face-to-face learning and digital learning, in the form of audio, video, online discussions and social media.

Note those italicized words in the above paragraph. Because the pace, time and place are now (somewhat) controlled by the student and that digital instruction is becoming more common, this means that learning no longer must take place inside of a physical classroom or formal learning environment. 

Students can now learn anywhere. At any time they want to.

This is how today's learner expects to learn and it could mean the need for powerful new tools to help facilitate that learning model and capture that learning data. 

Download the ESSA Transition Guide

Tools and Technology

Formative assessments take place much more frequently than do summative assessments. The frequency of the assessments means the amount of learning data that will be generated by your students is going to increase.

You need technology that will be able to not only house and integrate with all your content, tools and apps but also store all of that data in a way that allows you to analyze it and take action quickly.

Typically these tools come in the form of:

  • A learning management system (LMS) which is a piece of software that allows you to create, distribute, and track your students learning activites
    • Tip: Look for an LMS that allows you to track your students formal (classroom) and informal (outside of classroom) learning experiences in real time. This will give you a better picture of your learners and will allow your teachers to provide help at the right moment.
  • A learning record store (LRS) which is also a piece of software, typically used with an LMS, that collects all of your students learning data. The LRS allows you to store, evaluate and then share the learning data with teachers, administrators and other stakeholders quickly and easily
    • Tip: Learning record stores are inherently open, meaning they will easily integrate with your existing LMS or an LMS that you choose. This also means that you will be able to access your data whenever you want, wherever you are.

Let's Recap

We covered a lot, but to sum it up...

ESSA wants students to be prepared for the next step in their educational experience. Thus the new law has placed an increased amount of importance on formative assessments and made available funds for effective educational technology in schools.

Both of these factors can (and likely will) impact your curriculum, instructional and technology needs. 

Because of this, it is worth thinking about your current status and how you might address those needs in the coming months.  

We've created a helpful transition guide to help you think through possible technology needs among some other things. Click the button below to check it out.


Download the ESSA Transition Guide


Barbra Thoeming Director of Education Strategy at Thrivist, LLC