Federal Activities

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

Advocates Underscore a National Focus on Data in Education

“The data moment has arrived,” says Data Quality Campaign President and CEO Jennifer Bell-Ellwanger in a piece for the 74 Million. Citing the prioritization of data collection and use throughout a number of Executive Orders and strategies employed by President Joe Biden, Bell-Ellwanger says, “it’s…

MI: Officials Approve Alternative Route for Teaching Licensure for Men of Color

Michigan education officials have approved a new route for men of color to become teachers in Michigan public schools, citing the fact that less than 2% of educators in the state are Black men, though in many districts, the percentage of Black students may be…

CO: Gov. Polis Proposes Major Expansion of Early Childhood Programs, Funding

A bill being considered in Colorado would establish a dedicated early childhood department tasked with building a plan for universal preschool in the state by 2023. Using funds from a new nicotine tax recently approved by voters, the expansion of pre-K in the state would…

Biden Unveils $1.8 Trillion ‘American Families Plan’

The Biden administration proposed this week what would be the most significant expansion of education programs in at least a generation with a $1.8 trillion package focused on families and children. The proposal calls for universal pre-K for 3- and 4- year-olds, two years of…

Feds Draw Fine Line on Testing This Spring

Education Week’s Andrew Ujifusa says “a disconnect has emerged between the federal government requiring states to offer their tests, and districts’ power to exempt students from taking them,” citing the nuanced path federal education officials have taken in responding to individual state requests for scaling…

CO: Accountability Pause Gets Go-Ahead from Biden Administration

Colorado education officials were given approval to pause much of its accountability system this school year by the Biden administration. Instead, the state was told to be prepared to meet federal accountability requirements by 2022. Because of the shift, Colorado officials will not have to…

Biden Administration Seeks to Restart Flow of Civil Rights Data

The Education Department has released updated guidance to states on the collection of critical civil rights and education data. The guidance provides recommendations on how local and state officials can gather information on matters like attendance, school discipline, and school safety even as schools continue…

Blog Series Explores Evolving Issue of State School Accountability

The Education Commission of the States published the final piece in a 3-part series on school accountability, exploring how rapidly state accountability systems had to adapt to the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic and the abrupt halt of data collection systems typically used to inform…

D.C.: Request to Cancel Spring Tests Approved by Federal Officials

D.C. is now the only state to have its waiver request for federally-required assessments approved by the Education Department, even as handfuls of other states saw their requests to cancel spring tests this school year denied. Deputy Education Secretary Ian Rosenblum cited D.C. having among…

Javurek: ESSA’s Innovative Assessment Program Right in Principle, Lacking in Implementation

Abby Javurek, a vice president at prominent national nonprofit assessment provider NWEA, takes a look at ESSA’s Innovative Assessment provisions in a new piece in the 74 Million. She argues that the pilot program was on the right path in principle but was not implemented…

MI: Accountability Waivers Approved, Though Chances Slim for More Wiggle Room on Testing

The Biden Education Department has approved requests from Michigan officials to pause a number of accountability measures amid the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. The move was in line with flexibilities offered by the department in national guidance released in February. Federal officials are still…

Policy Blog Series Reflects on 5 Years of ESSA

The EdNote education policy blog has launched a new series reflecting on school accountability systems. The series comes more than five years after passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which required states to design data-driven accountability plans meant to help improve school quality and…

GA: Education Officials Open Survey on Proposed Math Standards Changes

Georgia education officials have opened a public survey on proposed changes to the state’s mathematics standards. After a year-long delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the State Board of Education plans to vote on the proposed standards by late spring. The changes to the standards,…

KY: State Clarifies Testing Plan This Spring, Uses for Data

Kentucky officials have clarified guidance for schools and districts on the state’s plan for administering spring assessments this year and using the results to inform instruction, guide supports, and depict pandemic learning loss. Education Commissioner Jason Glass, discussing Kentucky’s assessment plan in light of updated…

NY: Board of Regents Prepares Contingency if Plans to Cancel Tests Get Rejected

After announcing plans to continue pursuing a waiver of federally required statewide assessments despite Education Department guidance saying such requests would not be approved, the New York Board of Regents has stated a contingency plan. In the event the Department rejects plans to cancel NY…

NJ: Lawmakers Mull Extending Special Education Eligibility for Older Students

Under a proposal being considered by New Jersey lawmakers, schools would be able to provide special education services for an additional year beyond what is required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. By maintaining eligibility for students through the age of 22, as would…

MT: Annual School Report Cards Released With Caveats

Montana has released federally required school report cards for the 2019-20 school year, while flagging that some key data points that typically rely on student test scores would be missing as assessments were canceled at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the missing data,…

Harvard Professor Proposes Plan for Using Student Assessment Data This School Year

In light of the Education Department’s decision to refrain from issuing a second year of waivers of federally required statewide student assessments this school year, states are rapidly shifting their conversations to focus on how best to collect, present, and use resulting data on student…

Schools Find Proactive Ways to Remain IDEA Compliant During Pandemic

For many schools, ensuring that students who receive special education resources were able to continue receiving services during the pandemic proved to be one of the most difficult challenges resulting from school closures – one that has carried an uptick in “due process” litigation cases…

IN: State Lawmakers Consider Accountability Overhaul As Other States Consider Pauses

Continuing the national conversation around the role of state school accountability systems during the pandemic, Indiana lawmakers are considering a bill that would revamp the state’s approach to accountability by reconsidering state “takeovers” of the lowest performing schools, re-weighting A-F school grades, and developing a…

FL: State Officials Extend English Proficiency Testing Window, Make Test Optional

In an effort to keep the flow of academic data flowing while accommodating the concerns parents have in sending their children to test in-person, Florida education officials announced that the state’s English proficiency exams will be optional this year. The state’s public school chancellor, Jacob…

States Move Forward with Focus on Data to Guide Pandemic Recovery, While Some Seek Waivers

New York and Michigan added their names to the list of states again requesting a waiver of annual assessments required by ESSA, citing continued disruption imposed by the pandemic. While the states join a few others in asking for the tests to be called off,…

Cardon’s Perspective as Former English Learner Could Drive Direction at Education Department

If confirmed, President JoeBiden’s pick for education secretary, Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona, would bring a perspective previously unseen in the role – that of a student whose first language was Spanish and who learned English primarily at school. As a former English learner, writes…

Reports Detail Recession’s Long-term Impact on Education Funding, Warns of Repeating Mistakes

Two reports released recently by the Education Law Center seek to provide further context for elected officials and policymakers about the dire stakes at hand as school districts brace for budget cuts. The first report provides an analysis of state and local education funding following…

WY: Wyoming Joins Other States in Pausing Accountability Requirements Amid COVID, Closures

Wyoming education officials officially announced their intent to request waivers of federal accountability requirements as outlined by ESSA amid the continued disruption of the pandemic. Wyoming joins a number of states making similar announcements while also indicating a desire or intent to administer statewide annual…