The U.S. Senate voted today to repeal key regulations associated with the Obama administration’s Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA.
As state and district education chiefs committed to advancing student outcomes and promoting educational equity, we remain steadfast in our belief that innovative strategies are needed to ensure all students have the opportunity to attend a high-quality school that prepares them for postsecondary success.
Working in conjunction with a diverse group of stakeholders across their states over the past year, our members have been hard at work articulating bold strategies in their draft plans that are made possible by ESSA and that will lead to meaningful change for students and schools, especially those in need of the greatest support.
As a result, many of our chiefs stand ready to submit high-quality plans, based on the law’s requirements, to the U.S. Department of Education in April and implement them in the coming school years, and they are determined to carry forward with this work.
We appreciate that Secretary DeVos has indicated her commitment to retain the current schedule for state plan submission and are hopeful that the new plan template and any alterations to the process result in as few disruptions as possible for states.
In the coming days and weeks, we urge the education department to offer as much guidance and technical assistance as possible to prevent unnecessary delay and to provide additional clarity to states regarding the submission process and the expectations for peer review.
Even in the absence of federal regulations, here are three ways our members will continue to lead by example:
First, by ensuring all schools receive a single summative rating each year from among at least three clear categories in order to support parents in accessing clear, actionable and transparent information on the quality of schools and to enable strong systems of choice for their children.
Second, by providing specific guidelines for districts and schools to ensure that school improvement plans are meaningful, considering and addressing key drivers of academic and resource inequity through evidence-based approaches, and transparent so that families can provide input on, and be informed about, the strategies to improve the quality of their child’s school.
Third, by holding themselves to a high standard, our members will set the bar for strong ESSA plans that align not only with the basic statutory requirements, but also with these principles of excellence and equity – pushing collectively to enact policies and systems that foster innovation and lasting change and lead to dramatic improvements in educational outcomes for all students.
Mike Magee is the chief executive officer of Chiefs for Change, a nonprofit network of state and district education chiefs.