Federal Activities

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

DeVos to Propose a Rule on the Matter of COVID-19 Financial Aid for Private Schools

According to Education Week, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will soon be releasing a proposed rule to resolve the “dispute over how much coronavirus aid private school students should receive.” In a letter to a group representing state education leaders, DeVos announced the soon-to-be…

For Schools Receiving COVID-19 Relief Funds, Flexibility is Key

In a piece published by the Brookings Instition, Sarah Reber and Nora Gordon argue for as much flexibility as possible for states to allocate COVID-19 relief funding for K-12 schools. The authors assert that sending “most federal aid to states and school districts through a…

ESSA Author Senator Alexander Splits from DeVos on COVID-19 Relief for Private Schools

Senator Lamar Alexander—the chairman of the U.S. Senate Education Committee and co-author of the Every Student Succeeds Act—“has a different interpretation than the head of the U.S. Department of Education of how much federal coronavirus aid should be available to private school students.” In her…

Lawmakers Mount Fierce Opposition to DeVos’s COVID-19 Relief Guidance

Democratic lawmakers in Congress did not hold back in expressing their opposition to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s guidance about federal COVID-19 relief for K-12 schools, calling it “way out of bounds” and urging her to abandon it. In a letter sent to DeVos,…

DOE Launches Grant Program to Help Districts Educate Disadvantaged Students

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced a new, $3 million grant program that “gives districts flexibility to combine federal, state and local funding streams to educate disadvantaged students.” The grants are authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act and are aimed at supporting…

House Democrats Release New COVID-19 Relief Proposal Allocating $60 billion to Schools

Legislation introduced by House Democrats “would provide nearly $60 billion to K-12 school districts to help them address the coronavirus pandemic,” according to Education Week. The total “falls short of public demands from education advocacy groups,” yet will likely not make it past the Republican-controlled…

Indiana Focused More on Connection Than Attendance

“Attendance is now one of the many facets of K-12 education that has been redefined because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced school buildings to close and most students to transition to online learning,” writes Allie Kirkman. The reality is, argues Kirkman, that no…

DeVos Focuses on Special Ed Teachers in Voucher Push

“After years of frustration in her attempts to expand education choice, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is picking up steam,” writes Andrew Ujifusa for Education Week. “Fresh evidence that DeVos is continuing her push to prioritize choice with federal funds can be found in…

Coronavirus Poses New Challenges for Already Imperiled Statewide Standardized Assessments

A piece by Education Next takes a deeper dive into the recent FutureEd study examining opposition to statewide standardized testing. This opposition has made for strange bedfellows as “teachers’ unions and their progressive allies” opposed to test-based consequences for schools and teachers find themselves on…

Annual Testing for Homeschooled Students Not Impacted by ESSA Testing Waivers

The Trump administration’s waiving of federally required testing normally required under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) does not apply to homeschooling families, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). While schools will not need to adhere to ESSA’s federal testing requirements in…

What COVID-19 Means for School Closures, Testing, and Accountability Efforts

As Jim Cowen writes for Forbes, the wave of school closures has rightly sparked a discussion about the “issues of providing meals and other educational services to America’s school children.” In addition, these closures increase the likelihood that “many students will be out of school…

In Light of COVID-19, DOE Considers One-Year Waivers of ESSA Assessment Requirements

The Department of Education (DOE) released guidance last week for schools closing in response to the spread of COVID-19. As more schools implement a minimum two-week closure, DOE says “it will consider providing states with one-year waivers of assessment requirements” mandated under ESSA. Specifically, DOE…

Federal Funding Cuts Delayed, Sparing Rural Montana Schools for the Time Being

As reported in the Montana Standard, “cuts to a program that provides funding to rural schools serving students from low-income families will be delayed after mounting criticism.” Previously, the U.S. Department of Education had proposed changes to the Rural Low-Income Schools program’s eligibility requirements. A…

Trump Administration’s Budget Proposal Comes Under Fire by Education Unions

President Trump’s 2021 budget proposal is receiving harsh criticism from education unions, including the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. While it is “more than likely to be rejected by Congress,” the proposed budget seeks a number of cuts and changes in…

DeVos Describes Block Grant Proposal as “Very Compatible” with Every Student Succeeds Act

In an interview with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos by Cal Thomas, DeVos claims President Trump’s latest budget proposal includes “a significant step toward returning flexibility to the states through a proposal to block grant all of the elementary and secondary education funds … and…

President Trump’s Proposed 2021 Budget Would Overhaul ESSA Programs

As Naaz Modan reports for Education Dive, President Trump’s draft budget proposal for 2021 would “cut key K-12 programs while funding private school scholarships.” Overall, the President’s budget proposal would provide the Department of Education with a $66.6 billion in funding in 2021, “7.8% or…

Budget Proposal Would Cut Education Spending, Condense 29 Programs into a Block Grant

According to Education Week, the proposed budget released by the Trump Administration would call for the U.S. Department of Education to create a new block grant “consisting of 29 current programs called ‘Elementary and secondary Education for the Disadvantaged Block Grant.” At a proposed $19.4…

Senators Urge DOE to Expand Planned Analysis of Federal Education Spending

In a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, several members of the U.S. Senate urged the Department of Education to expand an analysis of federal K-12 education spending to “include dual and concurrent enrollment programs and early college high schools.” The group of lawmakers…

Ed-Flex Program Provides Four States with Greater Flexibility to Implement Education Reforms

As Linda Jacobson reports for Education Dive, four states—Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas, and Vermont—have been approved for the Education Flexibility Program, or Ed-Flex. “The program is intended to give states with ‘strong accountability safeguards’ the freedom to implement initiatives or reforms that might conflict with…

Senator Lamar Alexander’s Take on Impeachment Reflects His Approach to ESSA

An Education Week blog post draws parallels between Senator Lamar Alexander’s “handling of the impeachment inquiry and his recent approach to education policy,” including as a key architect of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). During the former, the Senator struck a middle ground—arguing that…

Report Card on Iowa Schools Shows Improvement Over Last Year

A school report card released by the Iowa Department of Education shows schools statewide are improving compared to last year. The online tool was designed to meet the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act and also includes “components of a state report card that…

Proposed Study Could Have Significant Impact on Educational Equity—One Way or Another

Late last year, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) “made an under-the-radar announcement that it was seeking comments on a new study of over $30 billion in federal education spending,” according to a recent article in Forbes. While it could “provide valuable information for researchers, advocates, and…

DOE Announces New Rule Regarding Religious Liberty, School Prayer Guidance

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced several new steps “to protect religious liberty and ensure the Department is acting in accordance with the first amendment, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). The proposed new rule would address “five…

A Shift on School Accountability Could Be an Issue to Watch in 2020

Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states have been given “an opportunity to make some of their own choices about how to hold teachers and schools accountable for performance.” With many of the new plans just starting to take effect, the future of these varying…

Senator Lamar Alexander Marks Four-Year Anniversary of Every Student Succeeds Act Becoming Law

On the fourth anniversary of the Every Student Succeeds Act becoming law, U.S. Senate Education Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander released a statement, saying (in part): “Under ESSA, every state plan for spending federal dollars has now been approved by the U.S. Department of Education. More…