Thoughts from the Field

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

Fordham Institute Hosts “The ESSA Achievement Challenge”

The Fordham Institute is hosting “The ESSA Achievement Challenge” to “identify states with strong plans and distinct approaches and hear state superintendents and education advocates make the case that their work will lead to greater student success.” Attendees will vote on who they think will…

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FutureED Releases New Report on Chronic Absenteeism under ESSA

FutureEd, an independent think tank at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, released a new report—“Who’s In: Chronic Absenteeism Under ESSA”—which provides a comprehensive review of the provisions in all 51 state ESSA plans, as well as the results of an analysis of federal chronic…

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CAP Ed Expert Discusses Role as Independent Peer Reviewer

Scott Sargrad, managing director of the K-12 Education Policy team at the Center for American Progress, writes about his participation in Bellwether and the Collaborative’s independent peer review, and offered guidance for New Hampshire’s education leaders as they finalize their ESSA accountability plans. Sargrad says the states “have…

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Center for American Progress Looks at Indicators and School Improvement Plans

The Center for American Progress examined the 17 state ESSA plans that have been submitted to the Dept. of Education, reviewing each state’s “school classification systems and school improvement plans.” CAP notes that, “carefully choosing which new measures of school quality or student success to…

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Civil Rights Groups ask Sec. DeVos to Reject Florida’s Incoming Waiver Request

Several civil rights groups issued a joint letter to Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos urging her to reject Florida’s proposal to opt out on requirements related to disadvantaged students. Liz King, director of education policy for The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, argued…

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Civil Rights Leaders Discuss Closing Achievement Gaps in State ESSA Plans

Civil rights leader and Urban League of New Orleans President Erika McConduit spoke with BlackPressUSA about the need for a focus on closing achievement gaps in state ESSA plans – and how the plans already submitted have fallen short. McConduit notes that “some ESSA state…

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New Handbook Aims to Help LEA and School Leaders Effectively Engage Stakeholders

Partners for Each and Every Child and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) have developed a handbook to assist LEA and school leaders as they engage stakeholders to effectively implement ESSA at the local level. Meaningful Local Engagement Under ESSA: A Handbook for…

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New Resources on Local Engagement and Advancing STEM Opportunities

Education First released a report on states’ efforts to advance opportunities in STEM education under ESSA. The report concluded that while plans did not largely focus on STEM innovation, there were four main policies that continuously appeared. States are including state science assessment results, career…

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Do Teachers and Parents have the Necessary Resources to Help Students Meet Goals?

Paige Kowalski, executive vice president of Data Quality Campaign, argued that while states are seeking to set large goals under ESSA, “teachers and parents lack a necessary resource to help their students meet those goals: data.” Kowalski advocated for an increase in data because “We have…

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NNPA Seeks to Increase Awareness about ESSA

Dorothy Leavell, chairwoman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, announced “that she wants the NNPA to be the principle source of information for the Black community concerning the implementation of ESSA. The group seeks to “increase awareness about ESSA with a focus on engaging Black…

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Education Strategy Group Expert Examines U.S. Dept. of Ed’s Responses to States’ ESSA Plans

In a Fordham Institute blog post, Ryan Reyna, senior associate at Education Strategy Group, commented that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her department “stumbled out of the gate with respect to their initial review of the Delaware, Nevada, and New Mexico’s ESSA state…

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Personalized Learning for State ESSA Plans

Doug Mesecar, an adjunct scholar at the Lexington Institute, authored an opinion piece in The 74 discussing how states are “seizing the opportunity ESSA provides to start moving to personalized learning.” Mesecar argues “Tennessee has the most comprehensive approach to personalized learning,” and how it…

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American Principles Project Experts Raise Concerns over Dept. of Ed’s Promise of Returning Local Control Back to States

In an opinion piece, Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins, senior fellows at the American Principles Project, argued the Dept. of Education may not be returning as much local control to the states under ESSA as originally promised. The piece examines how states like Delaware, Nevada,…

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CCSSO Responds to Dept. of Education Feedback

The Council of Chief State School Officers responded to the U.S. Dept. of Education’s feedback on ESSA plans submitted by Delaware, Nevada, and New Mexico. CCSSO Executive Director Chris Minnich said that the Department’s feedback “raises some concerns for state education leaders.” He noted that,…

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ID Ed Groups Express Frustrations with Being Excluded from Drafting the State’s ESSA Plan

The Idaho Education Association and Idaho School Boards Association sent a letter to Governor Butch Otter and State Board of Education members expressing their frustration in continuing to be “excluded from drafting Idaho’s state ESSA plan.” ISBA Executive Director Karen Echeverria said, “The importance is obvious…

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U.S. Dept. of Education Provides Feedback to Delaware, Nevada and New Mexico

According to Education Week, the U.S. Department of Education has given Delaware, Nevada, and New Mexico feedback on their plans, including a detailed list of information they need to provide to get their plans approved. Dale Chu, who is working with the Collaborative for Student…

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Recommendations on K-12 and Higher Ed Alignment

Higher Ed for Higher Standards released a new “Leveraging ESSA” brief detailing how the first 17 states to submit their ESSA plans laid out plans to align K–12 and higher education to support long-term student success – as the group had detailed in its previous…

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Best Practice Guide on Educator Equity

The National Council on Teacher Quality released an analysis and best practice guide of educator equity on the 17 state plans that have been released. Each analysis “recognizes notable strengths, or areas where a state’s work is laudable,” as well as “opportunities or areas where…

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How School Districts are Offering Professional Learning Systems under ESSA

The Frontline Research & Learning Institute released a report examining how school districts are offering professional learning systems under ESSA. In reviewing more than 200 school districts across the country, the report highlights New York’s Greece Central School District as a “model for professional development that is…

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Ed Trust Calls Attention to Importance of Setting High Expectations for Low-Performing Schools

Education Trust’s Senior P-12 Data and Policy Analyst Allison Rose Socol authored an opinion piece on state efforts for low-preforming students in their ESSA plans. Socol raised concerns that, among the 17 plans submitted to the Dept. of Education, “many are setting expectations far too…

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NY’s District Parent Coordinating Council Expresses Concerns About State’s ESSA Plan

New York’s District Parent Coordinating Council raised concerns over the lack of “federal oversight” among state ESSA plans. DPCC member Byron McIntyre stated “the responsibility is on the state to make the regulations to enforce this. That’s a major concern.” DPCC will host a meeting…

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Ed Trust NY Comments on Draft ESSA Plan

Ian Rosenblum, executive director of The Education Trust—New York, commented on the state’s recently submitted draft ESSA plan. Rosenblum said the “plan appears to be a mixed bag for equity” but “the draft plan fails to clearly communicate whether schools are meeting expectations for all…

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High Achievement New York Releases Statement on NY’s Draft ESSA Plan

High Achievement New York released a statement on New York’s submitted draft ESSA plan. According to Executive Director Stephen Sigmund, the group was “pleased that annual state assessments are such an integral part of accountability under the draft plan.”

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Harvard Professor Argues ESSA’s Main Importance

Thomas Kane, the Walter H. Gale Professor of Education and Economics at Harvard University and faculty director of Center for Education Policy Research, argued ESSA’s main importance is the flexibility provided to the states. Kane noted, “ESSA allows states the discretion to encourage local innovation…

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CASEL Releases New Policy Brief Assessing How States are Utilizing Social and Emotional Learning in ESSA Plans

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) released a policy brief examining how states are utilizing social and emotional learning in ESSA plans. The paper suggests five ways for states to successfully incorporate social and emotional approaches: Articulate a well-rounded vision of student…

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