2018 Election Wrap Up, ESSA in the Spotlight


2018 Election Wrap Up, ESSA in the Spotlight

With the results of the 2018 election mostly finalized and Congress back in session, there’s news about both secondary and postsecondary education this week. Read below to find out more about how the elections impacted state leadership, updates on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Secretary DeVos’ recent remarks on postsecondary education.
How the 2018 Elections Impacted State Leadership 
Looking for a one-pager summarizing how the 2018 elections resulted in changes in Governors, Legislatures and other state leaders? Check out this infographic from the Education Commission of the States.

Will Newly Elected Governors and Chiefs Revise their State ESSA Plans? 
The U.S. Department of Education earlier this month released guidance for new state leaders who want to amend their state ESSA plans. According to the guidance, states will need to submit an update with redlined language and a cover letter summarizing any changes. New plans will need to be submitted by March 1, 2019 to be considered.
New Reports Look at Equity in ESSA Plans and Implementation
The U.S. Department of Education has approved plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for all states and territories and conclusion of the 2017-18 academic year marks the first full year that the law has been in effect. New reports have begun to look at how equity is addressed in state plans and how implementation is going. The Alliance for Excellent Education looked at how states factor subgroup performance into school ratings, as required by law, in their brief, “Too Many States Minimize Student Subgroup Performance in ESSA Accountability Systems.” In addition, America’s Promise Alliance released a report, Great American High School: Reforming the Nation’s Remaining Low-Performing High Schools” that “identifies the progress made and remaining challenges in enabling all students to graduate from high school ready for college or career” and looks at how ESSA can be leveraged to advance equity. The Collaborative for Student Success and HCM Strategists conducted an “independent review of the progress made to date on school improvement under each state’s renewed context for school accountability” in their report, “ESSA and School Improvement: Promise to Practice.” Seventeen states were reviewed and the report outlines the extent to which equity was prioritized and identifies promising practices from states reviewed.
Secretary DeVos Describes an Impending Crisis in Higher Education
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos provided remarks at the Federal Student Aid Training Conference on November 27 about an impending crisis in higher education. Secretary DeVos called for policy changes regarding student aid, and outlined the following four core principles as a guide:

  1. “Every person should have the opportunity to pursue the education that’s right for them. And so, supporting and encouraging a multitude of pathways makes common sense.”
  2. “Innovation must be unleashed.”
  3. “Better, more accessible information is necessary for policymakers, for students, for parents, and for taxpayers.”
  4. “Nothing is free. Someone, somewhere ultimately pays the bills.”

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy