Federal Activities

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

New Parent Dashboard Provides New York Parents with Access to School, District Details

New York education officials are gathering feedback on a new parent data dashboard that provides access to detailed information on schools and districts. The dashboard was built to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 and includes data on student enrollment and ethnicity,…

South Carolina’s Report Card, Like Other States, Lean on Information in 2020

South Carolina’s latest school report card, like other states, is leaner on information than in typical years due to the cancellation of standardized testing in the spring, but state officials say “key information about graduation rates, bullying and student safety, teacher and administrator salaries and…

Illinois Report Card Celebrated by Peoria Public Schools Superintendent

A newly released Illinois School Report Card depicted impressive growth for one district’s programs in particular for the 2019-2020 school year. Peoria Public Schools Superintendent Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat took to the Journal Star to celebrate the fact that, prior to the pandemic, the district saw its…

Nine West Virginia School Districts Flagged By State For Support

The West Virginia Department of Education has marked nine school districts as needing assistance in the areas of finance, special education, and Pre-K readiness after an accountability report was completed ahead of a recent Board of Education meeting. State education officials noted that the nine…

Kentucky Thinktank Blasts State Education Department’s Release of Poor Quality School Spending Data

In a new report, the Bluegrass Institute harshly criticizes the quality of school spending data recently released by Kentucky education officials as a 2018-19 requirement of the Every Student Succeeds Act. The report states that Kentucky’s data is too general to be useful, as the…

The Career and Legacy of Senator Lamar Alexander

In this in-depth profile, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s Chester E Finn, Jr. captures the life and service of three-term, retiring Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. Detailing his time as the Chairman of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, or HELP, Committee, Finn states…

Five Years After ESSA Was Signed, COVID-19 Applies Pressure Test to the Law

Five years after it was signed into law, the Every Student Succeeds Act is being challenged by the unanticipated disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports Andrew Ujifusa for Education Week. At greatest risk, he says, are the assessment and accountability systems required of individual states;…

Education Reporters Cover Questions Around Assessments, Accountability Amid COVID-19

As conversations around the 2020-21 assessment period and the direction of accountability systems more generally become an increasingly fraught topic by district and state school leaders, EWA posted an overview of the topic geared toward education reporters. Specifically, the piece highlights ongoing back-and-forths between a…

How Districts Can Begin Preparing for Looming Budget Cuts

Long term financial considerations are quickly becoming a top concern for district and school leaders as federal stimulus discussions falter and local budget projections increasingly show massive shortfalls in communities across the nation. In reviewing lessons learned from the 2008 Great Recession and the resulting…

Association of Business Leaders Releases Education Priorities

Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of America’s leading companies, recently issued a set of education recommendations for members of the business community, who the council says “can be part of the solution [to the opportunity gap] by investing further in programs that…

Indiana Report Cards Face Test Transition, COVID Closures

Indiana’s state school report cards will, like those of most other states navigating the cancellation of spring testing due to Covid-19, lack information typically required under ESSA. However, Indiana now faces two year’s of incomplete or missing data, as state officials had been granted protection…

Department of Ed Reminds Schools of Requirements for Students with Disabilities

Responding to growing confusion around the provision of special education services after a chaotic back-to-school season, the federal Department of Education released several Q&A-styled documents to offer guidance to states and districts still determining their plans for special education. This follows the Department’s declination to…

Georgia DOE Tweaks Assessment Strategy for 2020-21 After Denied Waiver Request

In response to the decision by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to not grant additional testing waivers to states for the 2020-21 school year, Georgia State Superintendent Richard Woods announced how the state will rethink their approach to administering assessments in the winter and spring. Citing…

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…