Federal Activities

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

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…

Tennessee Officials to Use Federal Education, COVID Funds for Statewide Literacy Initiative

Tennessee will use flexibility granted by ESSA to use federal education funds, as well as a portion of the state’s COVID-19 recovery funds, to bolster resources and support aimed at improving literacy outcomes for Tennessee students. Noting that just above a third of third-graders in…

Rep. Bobby Scott Discusses Assessments, ESSA in Education Interview

In an interview with Education Week’s Andrew Ujifusa, Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., chairman of the House education committee, reiterated his firm support for administering annual state assessments amid the pandemic. “If we don’t know how far behind these students are, we won’t know how much…

Hawaii Education Officials Find Bright Spot in Otherwise Lean School Report Card

Hawaii is the latest state to release a truncated school report card amid a lack of assessment data in every state due to the cancellation of spring summative exams earlier this year. Without the data from state tests, report cards have been unable to include…

Special Education Advocates Hopeful for Biden Administration

As the first presidential candidate in decades to include full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as a campaign goal, President-elect Joe Biden has promised to make an effort to deliver billions of dollars of additional federal funding to special education programs…

D.C. Makes Gains in Graduation Rate Despite Pandemic

New graduation data announced by Mayor Muriel Bowser last week showed impressive gains in the number of students who successfully graduated in the 2019-20 school year, despite the abrupt closing of schools in the spring at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The district saw…

New Research Shows Weaknesses in State School Improvement Networks

A new study from the Center for Public Research and Leadership at Columbia University found that state school improvement networks frequently struggle to “scale up” successful policies or programs from the school to district or state levels. As outlined by ESSA, networks of schools established…

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…