Greater Johnstown School District readies for ESSA mandate

JOHNSTOWN – Greater Johnstown School District officials met recently to review a new federal initiative that will replace the 15-year-old federal No Child Left Behind program.

Superintendent Robert DeLilli and Board of Education President Scott Miller, and two other district representatives, met to discuss the new Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA.

In his monthly superintendent report to the board at Johnstown High School, DeLilli said the state Board of Regents is soliciting input about the new federal requirement.

“I think it was really worthwhile,” Miller said of the review.

No Child Left Behind mandated 17 federally-required tests.

ESSA, signed by President Barack Obama on Dec. 10, 2015, reauthorizes the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The new law builds on key areas of progress in recent years by educators, communities, parents and students across the country.

“We want high standards,” DeLilli said.

The ESSA covers six main areas: no more high stakes; more state and district control; multiple measures; measuring growth rather than proficiency; highlighting achievement gaps without punishing underserved students; and opting-out and the 95 percent participation rate, with states deciding what happens if the rate isn’t met.

“It’s a pretty comprehensive plan,” DeLilli said.

He said ESSA replaces the federal No Child Left Behind program and puts more onus on the states. Now, he said the states want input from individual school districts to create guidelines to put ESSA in place.

“It was nice to see the different views and ideas,” Miller said.

DeLilli said ESSA was supposed to be implemented by the end of this school year, but it may be pushed out further as states get their programs formalized.

Continuing his report, DeLilli told the board that district goals were being finalized.

Assistant Superintendent Patricia Kilburn said new goals “look great.” She said each building principal is now meeting and developing building goals.

One of the goals mentioned is that at least 80 percent of the students should be grade-level literate.

Kilburn said the goals will be put on the district’s website.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.