Thoughts from the Field

Below are the most recent reports, recommendations, and news from the field around a variety of ESSA topics.

Civil Rights Groups Call on DeVos to Hold States to Higher Standard

In an event, the National Urban League, the Education Trust, and Unidos US focused on how states are “flouting the Every Student Succeeds Act’s protections for vulnerable groups of children, and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos letting them get away with it,” according to…

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DeVos Approves Alaska and Iowa Plans

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced on May 16 that Alaska and Iowa gained approval for their state ESSA plans. “I am pleased to approve these plans which comply with the requirements of the law,” said Secretary DeVos. “I encourage states to use their…

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“Deeper Policymaking” Needed for “Student Self-Advocacy” Under ESSA?

Don Long of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) and Ace Parsi of the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) write in Education Week that, under ESSA, states “must act boldly on meeting and going beyond” the law’s requirements and “put equity…

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Civil Rights Leaders Tell DeVos to Give Revised Florida Plan the Thumbs Down

Jeffrey Solochek reports that, in the context of Florida submitting its revised ESSA plan to the U.S. Department of Education in April, civil rights groups “want U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to do to the second version what she did to the first—reject it as…

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DeVos Approves Three More State Plans

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has approved three more ESSA plans—Alabama, Colorado, and Kentucky. To date, the Department has approved 42 plans (plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico), while still leaving some “big population centers, including Florida and California” waiting for approval.

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Civil Rights Groups to Congressional Education Leaders: Tell DeVos to Stop Approving Unlawful ESSA Plans

Education Week’s Alyson Klein reports that civil rights groups, led by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, wrote a letter to leaders on the House and Senate education committees, “asking them to tell DeVos to stop approving ‘unlawful’ plans.” The letter states, “We…

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Needs Assessment, Learning, Health and ESSA

The Healthy Schools Campaign and Alliance for a Healthier Generation have released a new guide—Using Needs Assessments to Connect Learning + Health: Opportunities in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—which “includes important background information, data sources, tips for advocates and sample health and wellness questions…

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Hunt Institute Unveils Interactive Worksheet for State Leaders

The Hunt Institute published its “Policymaker’s Guide to Understanding Your State’s ESSA Plan & Reviews,” which is “intended to help state-level policymakers and other stakeholders begin to dive into the details of their state ESSA plans and provide a place to note thoughts, concerns, and…

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NGA’s Parker Shares Solutions for State ESSA Implementation

Stephen Parker, who leads the Education and Workforce Committee at the National Governor’s Association, shared a list of solutions for state leaders as they implement their ESSA plans, in a new post on the Fordham Institute’s Flypaper blog. Parker writes, “Approved state plans should be…

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Achieve Digs in On ESSA Plans

Achieve has released three briefs examining different aspects of state ESSA plans. The briefs take a deep dive on state graduation rate goals, state academic achievement goals, and how states include measures of 9th grade performance.

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States Using ESSA, Title II to Improve Teaching?

Stephenie Johnson, associate campaign director for K-12 Education Policy at the Center for American Progress, has reviewed all state ESSA plans “searching specifically for state-led and state-supported programs that will be funded, at least in part, through Title II, Part A of ESSA—the section of…

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What About Plans’ Promise for Improving Schools?

Center for American Progress Senior Policy Analyst for K-12 Education Samantha Batel writes that, while independent reviews have largely found state ESSA plans to be “unambitious or unfinished” (such as Check State Plans), one policy (which appears in half of ESSA plans) “could have teeth…

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NCLB + ESSA = State—But Not Local—Control

American Enterprise Institute’s Nat Malkus explains that the combined impact of NCLB and ESSA will be that, when it comes to education policy, the “reins” will be “firmly in state hands.” As a result, “many will have to adjust to these state differences” and undertake…

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New America Study Looks at Illinois English-Learner Data

Recently, New America released a report regarding Illinois’ ESSA plan and how it will impact and improve how the state tracks and uses data regarding its fast-growing population of English learners. Home to the fifth-largest population of K–12 English learners in the country, New America…

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Oklahoman Editorial Board Cites Check State Plans in OK ESSA Plan Critique

The editorial board of The Oklahoman has something to say about the Collaborative for Student Success and Bellwether Education Partners’ CheckStatePlans.org review of Oklahoma’s ESSA plan. Based in part on this review, the board concludes: “School grades serve an important public function and should reflect…

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Check State Plans on Ohio’s ESSA Plan

Ashton Marra reports that, even as Ohio education officials await feedback from the federal Department of Education on the state’s ESSA accountability plan, the CheckStatePlans.org review gives the plan “high marks.”

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Check State Plans Reveals States’ Failure to Seize ESSA Opportunity

Washington Post Columnist Jay Mathews writes that, in December, the “Collaborative for Student Success, in partnership with Bellwether Education Partners, reported on state efforts to install creative programs to boost achievement, as encouraged by” ESSA. However, these “efforts are failing miserably, according to 45 experts…

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Ed Trust: Equity Advocates Still Have Work to Do

In a new brief by The Education Trust, plans to improve outcomes for low-income students and students of color are “not encouraging.” The report recommends that “civil rights advocates keep a watchful eye on ESSA performance data to show if the new state accountability systems…

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Seven More States Need Specifics

The Dept. of Education sent letters to Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming enumerating federal feedback on their ESSA plans.

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State ESSA Plan Receives Good Reviews from Two Outlets

The Union Bulletin’s editorial board found two recent reviews of the state’s ESSA plan “encouraging.” The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, found, “Washington’s new system for how to evaluate schools is one of the best in the nation.” Additionally, Check State Plans found that, “Washington has…

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Gov. Susana Martinez “So Proud” of ESSA Plan Review

Citing New Mexico’s peer review results from the first round of CheckStatePlans.org, Gov. Susana Martinez concluded that she, “will not stop fighting for reforms that will prepare our students for the future.”

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What Common Mistakes Are Peer Reviewers Seeing in State Plans?

The latest edition of the Collaborative for Student Success’ blog series highlighting CheckStatePlans.org peer reviewers’ thoughts on what they’ve seen, what they’ve been looking for, and what they wanted to see in second-round ESSA plans asks three experts—Doug Mesecar of The Lexington Institute, Ryan Reyna…

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ExcelinEd Releases State Landscape

ExcelinEd has looked at ESSA plans for all 50 states and the District of Columbia and released its landscape analysis. Dr. Christy Hovanetz, who authored the analysis, said, “It’s encouraging that in the majority of states, schools will earn summative ratings that are easily understandable…

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Alexander Furious Over Dept. of Ed State Plan Reviews

Politico reports that Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Republican Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, was “furious” that a top aide to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was “circumventing” ESSA, contending the federal agency was “out of bounds” in challenging state officials on issues such as…

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Reviewers Weigh In: What Parents Should be Watching

In anticipation of the release of the second round of independent peer review results, we asked peer reviewers to share their thoughts on different aspects of state ESSA plans. In the first blog, which appeared on The 74, the Collaborative asked five peer reviews about…

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