Federal Activities

Below are the most recent news, reports, and recommendations relating to the federal government’s activities around ESSA.

ESSA & DeVos’ First 1,000 Days

In The 74, Carolyn Phenicie takes a look at the first thousand days of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ tenure, noting that among her detractors, her department’s “weak implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act” is among “her most egregious actions.” However, to her supporters, “weakening…

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Education Department Criticizes States Again for Their ESSA Approach

School spending by the states is the latest issue to garner criticism from the U.S. Department of Education, as Andrew Ujifusa writes for Education Week. Information on school spending is mandated under ESSA and, so far, 17 states have reported it, with a lot more…

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Montana Gets $50-Million Federal Literacy Grant

According to the Sydney Herald, Montana has received a five-year, $50 million literacy grant from the U.S. Department of Education as part of the Striving Readers Comprehensive State Development Program. The grant has several “outcome expectations,” including increasing “the percentage of all participating disadvantaged student…

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DeVos Announces New Grant Awards to Help “Rethink Education”

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced “$123 million in new grant awards to 41 school districts, nonprofit organizations and state educational agencies across the United States as part of the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program.” EIR grants—which are authorized under the…

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DOE Releases Parent Report Card Guide

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced the release of “important information on how local education leaders can make sure parents and caregivers have accurate and accessible information on how schools are performing in their state.” This new guide, entitled Opportunities and Responsibilities for State…

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Secretary DeVos Talks ESSA at Alaska Forum

According to KUAC, last week, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was in Alaska, where she discussed ESSA (among other topics) with state education stakeholders. Hosted by the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, the round-table discussion focused on workforce development. At the event, participants “talked about the…

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Feds Deploy Stats Agency to Improve Civil Rights Information

“Federal civil rights data on schools can be messy, incomplete, and at times difficult to believe. But the data are also critical to understanding how different groups of students experience and achieve in school,” writes Sarah D. Sparks. Last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy…

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2020 Democrats Push Title I Funding

In the LA School Report, Carolyn Phenicie takes a look at how many candidates in the 2020 Democratic presidential field are looking to increase spending on Title I, the “anchor for some of the biggest education policy changes in the past two decades, No Child…

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Details on Georgia and North Carolina Innovative Assessment Pilots

As we’ve reported previously, Georgia and North Carolina have been approved by the U.S. Department of Education to participate in ESSA’s Innovative Assessment Pilot program. Details of these plans are as follows (according to AllOnGeorgia): Georgia “will pilot two different innovative assessments: one based on…

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Helping Students With Disabilities Get Ready for Work

In this piece in The 74,  Karla Phillips and Travis Pillow provide recommendation to help students with disabilities graduate ready for college and careers. Here’s a summary of action steps states can take to improve employment outcomes for these students: “Create an annual ‘State of…

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Trump Admin “Falling Short” on ESSA Implementation

In Education Week, Megan Duff and Priscilla Wohlstetter provide an overview of a recent study conducted by them and their colleagues regarding the ESSA planning process, which concludes that the process has “veered off course.” How so? ESSA, contrary to NCLB, reverts much of the…

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U.S. Department of Education Announces School Safety Grant Information

In this press release, the U.S. Department of Education states that, in “support of the recommendations from the Federal Commission on School Safety’s (FCSS) final report,” the Department formally announced that it is “accepting applications for three fiscal year 2019 grant competitions that support locally…

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Indiana, Feds Resolve Struggling School Funding Dispute

“U.S. education officials have resolved a dispute among Indiana officials by clarifying that struggling schools within ‘transformation zones’ can be eligible to receive federal school improvement grant money beyond four years,” reports Ted Booker for the South Bend Tribune. “The dispute was resolved by the…

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Legislators Introduce Teacher Shortage Bill

According to InsiderNJ, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representatives Donald Norcross (D-NJ) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) have reintroduced a bill that seeks to address the nation’s increasingly problematic teacher shortage. The Supporting the Teaching Profession Through Revitalizing Investments in Valuable Educators (STRIVE) Act “would overhaul the student loan…

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DeVos Smart for “Lenient Attitude” Toward ESSA Plans?

While states “frequently and successfully flexed their muscles” when negotiating the details of their Every Student Succeeds Act plans with the U.S. Department of Education, the question of “whether Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was smart to let them take that approach or often just…

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“Blanket Approval” of ESSA Plans

“Even when state education agencies ignored or went against feedback from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in their plans to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), their plans were still approved,” writes Linda Jacobson regarding the same Duff and Wohlstetter report.  The new…

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Dems Push Bill to Increase Dept of Education’s Budget

According to this Andrew Ujifusa blog post in Education Week, a bill in Congress to increase the U.S. Department of Education’s budget by more than $4 billion will soon be considered by the full House of Representatives after passage out of the House Appropriation Committee….

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Democrats to Unveil Education Spending Bill

In this Education Week piece, Andrew Ujifusa provides an overview of “what to watch for” as Democrats “consider as spending bill” that “funds the U.S. Department of Education for fiscal 2020.” One program to watch is the proposed “$1.2 billion program that supports school safety,…

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DeVos Talks ESSA, Budget in Recent Public Appearances

“After weathering a political storm over the Trump administration’s proposed budget at the end of March, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos continued her run of public appearances into April,” writes Andrew Ujifusa for Education Week. “DeVos received widely varied reactions from state education leaders…

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Top House Education Dem to CCSSO: ESSA Not a “Blank Check”

Virginia Democrat Rep. Bobby Scott told state school chiefs at the CCSSO Legislative Conference last week that “the Every Student Succeeds Act does give them more flexibility on setting policy and complying with federal law, it is not ‘a blank check,’” reports Alyson Klein for Education…

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DeVos Takes Part in “Fireside Chat” with CCSSO

On Monday, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos participated in a “fireside chat” with state chiefs at the CCSSO State Education Leaders’ Conference. According to Politico’s Nicole Gaudiano, DeVos asked “K-12 education chiefs to “continue to raise the bar” as they implement the Every Student Succeeds…

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Arizona Could Lose Funding Over Assessments

According to the Arizona Capitol Times, in 2016, a bipartisan majority of Arizona legislators “approved a law allowing school districts to offer a ‘menu of assessments’ to choose from, such as the SAT or ACT, rather than one statewide standardized test, currently the AZMerit test.”…

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Trump Administration Outlines K-12 Budget

Andrew Ujifusa reports for Education Week that for the third year in a row, the Trump Administration’s budget proposal for the Education Department includes major cuts. “As with last year’s budget request, Trump wants to eliminate $2.1 billion in federal funding for teacher training under…

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New Mexico Reshaping Tests and Evaluations and Resubmit Plans

New Mexico’s Public Education Department is set to begin changes to the state’s standardized test and teacher evaluations. Last week the department posted surveys for local stakeholders to weigh in on the upcoming changes. After the feedback period closes, PED plans to resubmit their state…

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Will New Mexico’s ESSA Changes Test DeVos?

“New Mexico is planning a major shakeup of its plan to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act,” writes Alyson Klein for Education Week. “And it’s not the only state that’s mulling changes. Among those with potential revisions in the works: Indiana, Michigan, South Carolina, and…

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