By Kavi Pandian
Vinson Fellow explores state’s plan to meet new federal education rules
My research project with Dr. Russ Cook this semester began with a challenge—having to change the nature of my research project. I had planned to explore the elements of Georgia’s plan to meet federal Every Student Succeeds Act educational standards. ESSA promulgates federal education standards and replaces No Child Left Behind requirements.
When I originally set up my work with Dr. Cook, Georgia was supposed to submit a final draft for ESSA in March. However, in December the U.S. Department of Education gave states the option of submitting a plan in April or in September, and Georgia chose to defer until September.
Because of the delay, my project instead changed to its current focus—studying components of the ESSA and the material that focus groups say should be included in Georgia’s implementation plan.
The research involved studying the presentations state Department of Education officials made to stakeholder groups and exploring documentation developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers. The CCSSO documentation helped me understand what changes ESSA requires from No Child Left Behind, and it has also allowed me to see what other states are proposing to incorporate in their compliance plans. The presentations from state officials helped me understand Georgia’s current plans and see what feedback has been given by the community.
Stakeholders would like the final Georgia plan to include improving the Georgia Milestones (our current flagship testing method), creating improved training and preparation programs for teachers and leaders, and creating innovative programs to boost teacher recruitment as well as access to more advanced classes in rural districts which have lacked such programs.
I’ve greatly enjoyed my time so far as a Vinson Fellow. One of the best parts has been our monthly progress meetings; hearing about the incredible work being done by the other Vinson Fellows is always energizing. It’s even inspired me to continue working with the Institute of Government!
Vinson Fellow Rara Reines’ work with the Institute’s International Center this semester motivated me to contact faculty member Rusty Brooks, who manages the International Center, and I will be working with him in the fall.
The Vinson Fellows program has been crucial to my development as a student and a researcher, and I’m looking forward to sharing the results of my research with the Institute of Government faculty and staff.
Kavi is a sophomore Foundation Fellow from Chamblee, studying sociology and economics. He serves as an Honors Teaching Assistant, a Public Service and Outreach Student Scholar, vice president of education for RefUGA, and runs a weekly prison tutoring program with a fellow student. His research interests include education, policy implementation, and inequality in the criminal justice system.