ESSA--Advocates Letter to NJ DOE


January 20, 2017


Kimberley Harrington

Acting Commissioner

New Jersey Department of Education

100 River View Plaza

P.O. Box 500

Trenton, NJ 08625


Dear Acting Commissioner Harrington:


The Every Student Succeeds Act brings a rare opportunity to New Jersey.  Thanks to its enhanced flexibility, the state can design a new accountability system that promotes the best practices of public education—within the appropriate equity guardrails provided under the law.


The undersigned believe that making the most of this opportunity requires a paradigm shift in thinking—and hard work.  Education stakeholders across New Jersey stand ready for the challenge.


A major first step to symbolize ESSA’s departure from prior education policy is to approve indicators different from former NCLB “compliance” practices.


Educators, parents, community members, and students must adjust to a world where “accountability” does not carry the same negative meaning.  Changing from a mindset that once feared unfair labels, such as “failing schools,” does not happen overnight.  But happen, it must.


The undersigned believe that creating a new approach to accountability, which includes multiple measures of student success, promotes sound educational practice, and captures the best thinking of stakeholders, would move all public schools forward.


What’s more, creating new accountability measures serves as an impetus to streamline other duplicative accountability systems.  One ESSA system, one set of accountability measures.


To achieve these goals, the pending ESSA accountability application should contain a commitment from the New Jersey Department of Education to this multi-year effort.  We urge the New Jersey Department of Education to memorialize this commitment by adopting these goals as part of our pending ESSA accountability application. 




c:  Peter Shulman

Jill Hulnick