DeVos to State Chiefs: We Can, We Must Do Better for Students

Addressing the nation’s chief state school officers, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos delivered some “tough love” regarding progress under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA is the bipartisan education legislation passed by Congress in 2015 that returned power over education back to states.

DeVos’ remarks came after her review and approval of a majority of states’ ESSA plans. The law requires a federal review to ensure compliance with the law but then gives latitude to the states to determine how best to ensure educational success. DeVos challenged the chiefs to embrace the flexibility afforded them by ESSA and innovate on behalf of their students. “Just because a plan complies with the law doesn’t mean it does what’s best for students,” said DeVos.

Full speech at ed.gov

Secretary DeVos Announces New Student-Centered Funding Pilot Program

Washington — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today announced new flexibility for school districts to create equitable, student-centered funding systems under a pilot program authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

“This is a great opportunity for local district leaders to put students first,” said Secretary DeVos. “Instead of relying on complex federal rules to allocate funds, local leaders can use this flexibility to match funds—local, State or Federal—to the needs of students.”

The flexibility will allow school districts to combine eligible Federal funds with State and local funds in order to allocate resources to schools based on the number of students and the corresponding level of need. This type of system, often called “student-centered funding” or “weighted student funding”, is widely considered to be a modern, transparent and quantifiable way to allocate resources to the students most in need.

Full story at ed.gov

Concerns Mount Over K-12 Education Plans

As states cement education plans for their schools under the federal K-12 law, the Department of Education is working furiously to assess them amid mounting concerns about states’ commitment to following the law, their proposals to ensure historically disadvantaged students have access to quality education, and the department’s capacity – and in some cases, lack of desire – to police it all.

The Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, gives states new flexibility to create accountability systems that suit their unique needs. Those plans must be vetted and cleared by the Department of Education before states begin implementing them in the near future.

The process has been somewhat tumultuous, triggering concern from across the education spectrum about how Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and department officials would review each submission.

Full story at US News

Education Reform Isn’t in Retreat

Is big, bold education reform in retreat?

The Every Student Succeeds Act ended the Bush-Obama era of sweeping federal action embodied by the No Child Left Behind Act, Race to the Top and the School Improvement Grant program. It also severely limited the U.S. Department of Education’s ability to unilaterally exert its will on states and districts. Moreover, the Trump administration’s budget proposed significant cuts across federal programs. And all of this is on top of the public backlash to Common Core, teacher-evaluation reform, testing and similar initiatives associated with Uncle Sam.

Many find this all disheartening because they believe that major federal action is how the nation shows it cares deeply about something. It is, they’d argue, the way to broadcast priorities, bring about justice and take reforms to scale. Indeed, U.S. Supreme Court decisions like Brown vs. Board of Education and Pierce vs. Society of Sisters articulated and required the defense of essential education rights. So isn’t dramatic congressional action – the democratic equivalent of a powerful pronouncement of the federal courts – the primary way for the American people to drive widespread, meaningful educational change?

Full story at US News

States Struggle to Define ‘Ineffective Teachers’ Under ESSA

Teacher evaluations—both their role and the mechanics of carrying them out—are a politically fraught subject, and the Every Student Succeeds Act has kicked the dust up once again as states wrestle with how to comply with teacher-quality sections of the new law.

ESSA, which goes into effect this fall, does away with the “highly qualified teacher” mandates under its predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act. It also bans the U.S. secretary of education from dictating the ways in which states grade their teachers, a sore spot under the NCLB law.

At the same time, ESSA requires states to provide a single definition of “ineffective teachers” in the plans they submit to the federal government and then describe how they will ensure that poor and minority students aren’t being taught by a disproportionate number of them.

Full story of the ineffective teachers under ESSA at edweek.org

Education Department Releases Final Regulations to Promote a High-Quality, Well-Rounded Education and Support All Students

After considering and incorporating extensive feedback from stakeholders across the education system and the public, the U.S. Department of Education today announced final regulations to implement the accountability, data reporting, and state plan provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), with a focus on supporting states in using their flexibility to provide a high-quality, well-rounded education, and ensure equity remains at the core of implementation. The regulations will help states, districts and educators seize the opportunity ESSA provides to ensure a high-quality, well-rounded education that sets every student in America up for success in college and career.

The Department greatly appreciates the many productive comments and suggestions from parents, teachers, school leaders, district and state officials, members of Congress, civil rights organizations, and others throughout the regulatory process. The final regulations issued today reflect much of that input.

Full story of final regulations released to support students at ed.gov

FACT SHEET: Education Department Encourages Support for Educators and Teaching Profession through Title II, Part A

The U.S. Department of Education today released non-regulatory guidance to help support the nation’s educators and elevate the teaching profession. The guidance encourages states and districts to prepare, train, and recruit high-quality teachers and principals to increase student academic achievement. With the enactment of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states and districts have the opportunity to reimagine the way Title II, Part A funds can be used through driving innovation and building on evidence to better support educators.

“As a student, teacher, and principal, I know firsthand the powerful difference educators make in our children’s future,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “Educators play a critical role in securing our nation’s economic future and delivering on the promise of an excellent education for all children, especially those who have been historically underserved. That’s why we are releasing guidance to help us better support our educators and ensure they not only have a seat at the table, but their voices are heard. We don’t just want educators to be part of the change; we need them to lead it.”

Full story of support for educators and teachers through Title II, Part A at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance on English Learners

The U.S. Department of Education today released non-regulatory guidance to help states, districts and schools provide effective services to improve the English language proficiency and academic achievement of English learners (ELs) through Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The guidance is an effort to ensure that students who are English learners receive the high-quality services they need to be college and career ready.

“In too many places across the country, English learners get less access to quality teachers, less access to advanced coursework, and less access to the resources they need to succeed. Together, we can change that reality,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, we have an opportunity to give students the gift of bilingualism and of multilingualism so they are prepared for college and career with a better sense of themselves, their community, their future, and a better appreciation for our diversity as a country.”

Full story on the non-regulatory guidance on English learners at ed.gov

U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services Release Joint Guidance on Foster Youth

The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today released guidance to states, school districts and child welfare agencies on the new provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for supporting children in foster care. The guidance aims to assist state and local partners in understanding and implementing the new law, and to inform state and local collaboration between educational and child welfare agencies across the nation for the well-being of children in foster care. The guidance is the first the Department of Education is releasing regarding provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act, in the coming weeks and months to help states, districts and schools as the implement the new law. In addition, the Education Department is also releasing a letter to states and districts stressing the importance and utility of stakeholder engagement as they begin to transition to ESSA.

Over the past several months, the Education Department hosted over 200 meetings with stakeholders from across the country, including parents and teachers, school leaders, state and district officials, tribes, and civil rights groups on a number of issues. The most notable dialogue centered on the equity and excellence goals of ESSA, and how to protect the civil rights of students. The guidance released today has been informed by promising practices from states and districts, as well as input from many and diverse stakeholders consulted during the development of the resource.

Full story of ED and HHS release joint guidance on foster youth at ed.gov

Proposed ESSA Regulation Supports Well-Rounded Education, Protects All Students

In a major step toward implementing the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and providing important clarity for parents, students, and educators about the new law, U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. today announced proposed regulations to implement the law’s accountability, data reporting, and state plan provisions. The regulations would replace the narrow, one-size-fits-all approach that defined ESSA’s predecessor, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), with new flexibility for states and districts; a more holistic approach to measuring a quality education that will help prepare all students for success; and strong protections to ensure the progress of all students. It also reinforces ESSA’s strong commitment to transparency and ensures meaningful engagement and an active role for parents, teachers, students, community leaders, and other stakeholders in implementing the new law. The proposed regulations themselves were informed by extensive input from a diverse group of stakeholders. The Department of Education (Department) participated in well over 100 meetings and events and received hundreds of public comments prior to the release of the regulations. The Department will encourage additional feedback on the proposal from parents, teachers, and other stakeholders through the public comment period, and looks forward to receiving suggestions for improvements to the proposed regulations.

“These regulations give states the opportunity to work with all of their stakeholders, including parents, and educators to protect all students’ right to a high-quality education that prepares them for college and careers, including the most vulnerable students,” Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said. “They also give educators room to reclaim for all of their students the joy and promise of a well-rounded educational experience.”

Full story of proposed ESSA regulation at ed.gov