Federal Activities

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

D.C. State Superintendent Of Education To Step Down In October

D.C. State Superintendent Hanseul Kang announced that she is preparing to depart the office in coming months, prompting reflections on her time as D.C.’s top education official. Notably, supporters and critics alike point to Kang’s focus on reshaping teacher recruitment and retention policies, goals to…

Some Speculate About a Warren Department of Education

In a piece exploring the potential choice of former presidential contender Elizabeth Warren as the next Secretary of Education, New America’s Wesley Whistle ponders the implications that a Biden administration’s cabinet selections could have on a number of education issues. Notably, Warren’s Department of Education…

A Reporter’s Investigation into Bureau of Indian Education Schools Finds Accountability Failures

According to coverage by AZ Central and ProPublica’s Alden Woods, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) “failed to comply” with several reporting and accountability requirements outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act. Specifically, Woods says, the BIE is the “only education system in the…

Next Stimulus Might Bring Changes to Federal Education Aid

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s Michael Petrilli, in examining the developing conversation around additional K-12 stimulus funding for schools, argues that any federal investment should be distributed in a way that directly provides services to kids “most at risk of falling even further behind.” To…

Top Education Official Argues Value of Assessments

In an online event for the Education Writers Association, Department of Education Assistant Secretary Jim Blew told reporters that the DOE’s “instinct” is to not grant state waivers of federal testing requirements, as established by the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015. Blew stated, “There…

Virginia DOE annual report now provides per-pupil funding for each public school

For the first time since the Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law in 2015, Virginia’s annual School Quality Profiles report will include per-pupil spending data for each of its public schools, beginning with the 2018-19 school year. “Adding the school-level information to the…

Education Data and COVID-19 Recovery: Resources for Leaders

Two new reports from the Data Quality Campaign discuss the need for educational data as officials continue to make many, complex decisions amid the COVID-19 pandemic and in recovery. The first report focuses directly on the importance of transparency and provides clear ways that education…

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…