From the business world to sports to education, analytics are all the rage, as rapidly evolving technology and data systems unleash a flood of new metrics that decision makers can use in developing strategies and making choices. But even with the smorgasbord of new information, some potentially important indicators remain unavailable.
That’s certainly true in the education finance arena, where policies are still driven, at least in part, by the unknown and by the lack of detailed data on key topics.
“[School] system leaders often seem unaware of the unintended consequences of long-standing spending practices,” Marguerite Roza, the director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University, and Carrie Stewart, managing director of the Afton Partners consulting firm wrote in an article for AASA, the School Superintendents Association. They suggest that digging into school-level-spending data can help in better understanding these patterns.
THE EDUCATION Department is considering allowing states to use federal funding to buy guns for teachers, according to a report in The New York Times.
The unprecedented move would reverse a long-held stance that the federal government should not fund the purchase of weapons.
In justifying the decision, the department is citing a program in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, called Student Support and Academic Enrichment. The program does not mention the prohibition of weapons purchases, which Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would use to condone using grant money to fund gun purchases and training, according to the Times.
One of the three pillars of the program is to “improve school conditions for student learning.” People familiar with the situation told the Times that in its research the Education Department concluded that gun purchases could fall under this pillar. Currently, the guidelines for this section of the grant include encouraging schools to increase mental health counseling, reducing suspensions and establishing dropout prevention programs.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.”
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.”