Education Dept. Releases Guidance for Implementation of ESSA

US-DeptOfEducation-Seal_LargeThe Education Dept. releases a proposed rule and guidance for implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that will help schools put in place programs for accountability, data reporting, and consolidated plans.

Public Comment Deadline: July 31.

The department considered hundreds of comments from the public and held over 200 meetings and events across the nation, receiving input from a variety of stakeholders, including students, parents, educators, school leaders, state and local administrators, tribes, civil rights organizations, and business leaders.  

This marks an important step along the path to implementing the in a way that allows the law to live up to its potential as a tool for enhancing educational excellence and equity, said DoEd Secy. John King.

“These regulations give states the opportunity to work with all of their stakeholders, including parents, and educators to protect all students’ right to a high-quality education that prepares them for college and careers, including the most vulnerable students,” King said. “They also give educators room to reclaim for all of their students the joy and promise of a well-rounded educational experience.”

ESSA requires that state and local report cards include a robust set of information for parents and the public about school performance, while also affording states flexibility to include additional information. The proposed regulations streamline requirements for consolidated state plans to reduce burden and duplication while offering the flexibility for states to coordinate across programs and think comprehensively, King said.

Key features of the proposed regulations include:

A More Comprehensive Picture of School Success. The ESSA replaces the No Child Left Behind narrow definition of school success based primarily on mathematics and English language arts test scores with flexibility for states to take a broader view of what makes for a successful school. Under the proposed rule it also:

  • Allows states to set their own ambitious goals and measurements of interim progress, provided those goals take into account the improvement necessary to close achievement and graduation rate gaps.
  • Includes indicators of academic achievement, graduation rates (for high schools) or academic progress (for elementary and middle schools), and progress towards English language proficiency.
  • Measure the performance of all students in all public schools (including public charter schools);
  • Allow for comparisons between subgroups of students; and
  • Requires states to consider each subgroup of students separately to ensure that each student group is meaningfully included in the state’s accountability system.

Tailored Support for Struggling Schools: Maintains our commitment to every child, aligned with the law, by guaranteeing meaningful action where whole schools or groups of students within schools are struggling; replaces the prescriptive interventions of NCLB with locally designed, evidence-based strategies to fit schools’ unique circumstances. It also:

  • Clarifies the types of schools that are identified in the state’s accountability system.
  • Prioritizes school improvement funds to the schools that need the most help and ensures states provide a solid base of funding for schools, proportionate to the need for intervention.
  • Gives states time for an orderly transition to the new provisions for the 2017-2018 school year, while preventing a gap in supports for students and critical information for parents.

The department also is announcing approximately $10 million in technical assistance funds to help states and districts focus on low performing schools. The NOFA is to be released soon.

Streamlined, Consolidated State Plans: Encourages meaningful stakeholder engagement and planning across programs to enhance educational equity, improve student outcomes. It also:

  • Requires broad, robust engagement with a diverse group of stakeholders.
  • Reinforces equitable access to a full range of educational supports for all students.
  • Builds upon states’ Educator Equity Plans.

The proposed regulations ( reinforce the statutory requirement that states have robust, multi-measure statewide accountability systems, while giving them the flexibility to choose new statewide indicators that create a more holistic view of student success. To give states room to develop systems tailored to their individual needs, the proposed regulations do not prescribe or suggest specific percentages for any of the indicators, or a range for weighting; rather, they include provisions to ensure that states are emphasizing the appropriate academic indicators. Consistent with the statute’s focus on measures beyond graduation rates and test scores, the proposed regulations clarify that states choose their own indicators of school quality or student success. But, the proposal requires that states are able to compare subgroups of students on each measure.

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About Frank Klimko

Frank Klimko is a nationally known journalist, grants expert and speech writer/speaker. He has years of experience helping nonprofits devise lists of the right funding opportunities and secure funding from these foundations and corporate entities. Clients have focused on an array of areas including child care, homeless, hunger and K-12 education. Additionally, he is a Freedom of Information Act expert, who has helped numerous clients with securing proprietary information from the federal government. Currently, Frank Klimko writes the Children & Youth Funding Report and Private Grants Alert, which are Washington DC-based publications. CYF is a daily publication covering Congress, the Education Dept. and the various federal regulatory agencies. PGA, another daily publication, covers the world of private philanthropy.
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