May 16, 2019

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED TECH, GUEST BLOGS) Permanent link

DQC Guest Blog Post: Infographic on the power of spending data

Our newest guest blog post comes from our friends at Data Quality Campaign and relates to the ESSA fiscal transparency requirement. They’re talking about the important opportunity this data represents, and more immediately useful, link to a very helpful infographic on the power behind this unprecedented collection and reporting of school spending data.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires states to publish school-level spending data on report cards starting next year. While your state may already publish some version of per-pupil expenditures on its school and district report cards, those numbers are usually a district average—in other words, the total expenditures of the entire district, divided by the number of students in the whole district. The new per-pupil expenditure data will include the expenditures at each school, like programs, special courses or interventions, and the actual salaries of the teachers in that building, which is likely to show different per-pupil expenditure amounts at each school. You and your team may have already been in conversations with your state about how to collect this information.

While transparency about school spending is important for policymakers and communities, it is most valuable in the hands of leaders like you who can use it to make sure that every student is getting the resources they need. As you work with the state to collect school-level spending data, you and your team need to view this data side by side with information about the students in your schools, including their academic outcomes. Looking at school-spending data alongside student success data can prompt conversations within your district about how many resources schools have in comparison to one another, and whether the way resources are allocated is helping you meet the goals you have for your students. Now that school spending data is available statewide, you can also take a look at similar school districts’ spending and student outcomes and have conversations with your peers in other districts. Local leaders, including principals, school boards, and district leaders like you have the most important role in both acting on and communicating about school-level spending. 

Brennan McMahon Parton is Director, Policy and Advocacy for Data Quality Campaign

 

May 10, 2019

(ESEA, RURAL EDUCATION, ADVOCACY TOOLS, SCHOOL CHOICE AND VOUCHERS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

AASA Advocacy: Rapid Round Up

It was a busy week here in DC, and the most efficient way to share that information is a rapid-fire round up in a blog post. Here's what we have for you: 

CEF FY20 Budget Book: This week, AASA was happy to have David Young, Superintendent of South Burlington Schools (VT) on Capitol Hill to talk about the importance of federal investment in education, focusing on head start and early ed. Superintendent Young was here as part of the annual Budget Briefing day by the Committee for Education Funding, a coalition of 115+ national organizations and institutions committed to increasing federal investment in education. AASA is a long time member and serves on the board of CEF. AS part of the hill event, CEF released its FY20 Budget Response, a detailed analysis of what the president proposed for all education programs and what it means for our nation’s school, students and communities. Access the report here

Voucher Victory on the Hill: The SECURE Act is a bill that moved out of the House Ways and Means committee last week, and included a very problematic provision that would allow expansion of 529 plans, giving wealthy families a tax break for enrolling—or keeping their children enrolled—in private schools and homeschools. This tax break decreases available funding for public education budgets, hurting the 90 percent of students served by our nation’s public schools. While the bill passed out of committee with the bad language, education groups (including AASA) were successful in negotiating its removal before the bill goes to the floor in the next week or so. We will remain diligent, in case Republicans consider introducing the provision as a stand alone amendment during the full vote. For now, though, a good advocacy effort resulted in stronger policy that supports public education. 

Title I Formula Report, Finally!: You’ll recall that as part of our push for ESSA reauthorization, AASA was out in front in highlighting how the current Title I formulas include unintended consequences that result in less poor districts receiving more money per pupil compared to poorer districts. While the formula wasn’t rewritten in law, the final ESSA did require USED to complete a study evaluation the Title I formula and a series of specified analysis and scenarios. The report was due in June of 2017 and was finally released this week (just one month shy of being two years late). The report stops short of making any specific recommendations about improving the accuracy and allocation of the formulas, provide a great synopsis of each of the formulae and related implementation provisions. You can read the report here. Moving forward, the real question is “How will Congress use this report to inform how they structure the next Title I formula? Will Congress use this information to decide how to allocate their federal Title I dollars among the four formula elements of Title I? How will Congress and states react to what we learned about the impact of hold harmless, state minimums, and state set asides in skewing full intended allocation of federal dollars?” Read the report (all 250 pages!) here.

House Passes FY20 LHHS Bill: On Wednesday the House appropriations committee approved legislation that would provide significant increases for grants aimed at disadvantaged students, after-school programming, and social-emotional learning. The bill provides more than $4 billion in additional funding for USED in FY20, a stark contrast to the President’s proposal, which would cut USED by more than $8 billion. The bill has yet to pass the full House, and is likely much higher than what would pass the Senate and well above anything the president would sign. The path forward for USED funding is anything but certain, with real threats of shutdown, continuing resolution and sequester all at play. We will continue to monitor the process. Check out a detailed write up of the House appropriations committee bill. 

  • AASA was pleased to sign the CEF letter of support for the House FY20 proposal. Give the letter a read. 

District Revenues and Expenditures Ticked up Between 2015 and 2016: A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) examined information about revenues and expenditures in the nation’s public school districts. The national median of total revenues per pupil and expenditures per pupil increased across all public school districts between budget years 2015 and 2016. To view the full report, please visit http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2019303 

May 1, 2019

(ESEA, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

Two New Education Reports: ESSA Implementation and Teacher Compensation

Last week, the Center on Public Education released two reports that will be of interest to school leaders. AASA was pleased to participate in the conversations supporting the ESSA report, and to connect researchers directly to school superintendents for the deeper interviews. We share the teacher compensation report for its general relevance, given the ongoing policy discussions and strikes at the local level related to teacher pay, and the role of teacher pay in recruit and retention.

The first report, State Leader Interviews: How States are Responding to ESSA’s Evidence Requirements for School Improvement, explores state efforts to assist local educators with selecting evidence-based interventions to improve low-performing schools. The report also contains some recommendations for making research more accessible to educators.

The second report, Are Public School Teachers Adequately Compensated?, provides a context for understanding the issues surrounding teacher pay, including information on how public education is funded and several recent analyses of teacher compensation in each of the 50 states.

Both reports are available on the CEP web site (www.cep-dc.org) and can be downloaded free-of-charge

March 21, 2019

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS) Permanent link

AASA Feedback on Changes to Equitable Services

Earlier this month, USED handed down a clarification related to equitable services in ESSA that would allow third party or outside players to be religiously affiliated. For background: Under ESSA, public schools have to offer/provide the same services to vulnerable students in private schools that are available to students in the public schools. Under current practice, some schools make that work by providing a teacher or the related salary. Or, while current law prohibits the money from going directly to the private school, districts consult with the private school leaders to determine what services need to be provided and if they need to use an outside contractor. Under previous interpretation, there was a prohibition against any such organization being religious in affiliation. In light of Trinity Lutheran (The SCOTUS case the is a foot-in-the-door approach to vouchers and allows for public dollars to go to private schools in narrow circumstances), USED was clarifying that prohibition against these contractors being religious was illegal. This means that schools can now consider proposals or bids from religious groups. While this is not likely sizeable in terms of dollars that may ultimately flow to private providers that are religiously affiliated, it is a seismic shift in that public dollars will end up in private schools. 

In response to the change, AASA submitted the following comment to USED:

On Monday, March 11, the US Education Department (USED) announced that in light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, 137 S. Ct. 2012 (2017), eligible organizations cannot be disqualified from receiving a public benefit solely because of their religious character, USED will no longer enforce statutory provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that previously restricted school districts from contracting with religious organizations to provide equitable services on the same basis as any other organization. The Trinity decision expanded federal law to allow provision of public dollars to private entities/schools in a narrow circumstance, and we want to ensure that this USED application of this interpretation does not spill over into a further expansion. That is, it is a creative interpretation of legal logic to expand a decision that is it ok for a contractor to use public funds to resurface a playground in a private school to then allow that flexibility to apply to a contractor who will provide instructional services. 

We share USED’s goal to support school districts in providing high-quality educational services to students and teachers. To that end, we encourage USED to consider and make clear those ways in which it will prevent fraud, waste, and abuse in circumstances where school districts choose to contract with religious organizations to provide equitable services, and in turn instruct states as to how to effectively include this in their monitoring. In addition, we encourage USED to remain diligent in its enforcement of other applicable statutory provisions and we encourage LEAs to ensure that their activities are compliant with those provisions, including the requirement that any contractor be independent of the private school for which it is providing services (i.e., the contractor does not have administrative or fiscal direction and control over the private school) and that the educational services and other benefits being provided by the contractor are “secular, neutral, and nonideological.” As with any other contractual arrangement funded by federal dollars, transparency and accountability in these arrangements are critical to supporting students’ and teachers’ success and the responsible allocation of limited financial resources. 

 

January 26, 2019(1)

(ESEA) Permanent link

USED Releases Non-Binding Guidance on Supplement, Not Supplant Provision in ESSA Title I

As if the temporary end of the shutdown wasn’t exciting enough, on Friday, USED contributed to a busy education-policy new cycle by releasing non-binding guidance related to the supplement, not supplant provisions of ESSA Title I.

 

  • Background: ‘Supplement, not supplant’ (SNS) is a provision in federal law designed to ensure that federal funds are in addition to—not in place of—state and local dollars. The guidance released on Friday applies only to ESSA Title I, but not to other federal education programs that may have separate SNS provisions. Under NCLB, the SNS provisions had been beefed up to a level that was burdensome and unnecessarily complicated. While the core provision remains unchanged from NCLB to ESSA, the big change is that under ESSA, no LEA can be required to identify that an individual cost or service is supplemental. This provision rules out requiring an LEA to use the three presumptions to comply with the supplement not supplant requirement, which were based on an analysis of individual costs. LEAs no longer have to demonstrate SNS at the individual cost or service level. Congressional Research Service released a good primer on SNS in early 2015.
  • New Guidance: The guidance released by USED is a very light touch, especially compared to the regulations proposed under the Obama administration. The guidance released on Friday aligns much more closely with the guidance document that had been released in the summer of 2015 (before ESSA was even reauthorized!) You’ll recall AASA had deepreservations regarding the Obama regs, which mandated equalized spending and would have resulted in forced transfers, among other concerns. The new guidance avoids those traps, also clarifies that LEAs do not have to publicly disclose their SNS methodology on their websites, but does clarify that LEAs can’t simply use their per-pupil spending to demonstrate compliance with SNS. The guidance includes sample methods LEAs can use in demonstrating SNS, clarifies that list is not finite, and reiterates that USED cannot mandate the SNS methodology.

 

You can read the guidance here.

November 29, 2018

(ESEA) Permanent link

Opportunities in ESSA for College in High School Programs

College in high school programs, such as dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, and early college high school, are effective and increasingly popular models for improving student access, affordability, and completion of college, particularly for students who are low income or underrepresented in higher education.

Students who attend schools with high-quality college in high school programs are more likely to graduate high school, immediately enroll in college, and persist to completion than their peers. At the same time, these models provide students with significant flexibility in how to tailor their academic programs to their specific needs. They also meet a top priority of many families: reducing the time and cost for students to earn degrees and enter the workforce.

ESSA empowers states and local decision makers to implement the strategies they choose for improving teaching and learning, provided that they are grounded in evidence of success. ESSA encourages states and school districts to consider college in high school programs as key strategies for successfully preparing students for college, and provides increased access to federal funding for the development and implementation of these programs.

Working with our partners at the College in High School Alliance (CHSA), a coalition of national and state organizations advocating on behalf of high-quality dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, and early college high schools, we have put together a fact sheet for school district leaders to understand:

How ESSA treats college in high school programs;

What funding opportunities are available under the law for you to consider using; and

How states are prioritizing these programs in their accountability systems.

CHSA is a coalition of national and state organizations collaborating to positively impact policies and build broad support for programs that enable high school students – particularly those who are low income or underrepresented in higher education – to enroll in authentic, affordable college pathways toward postsecondary degrees and credentials offered with appropriate support.

CHSA has additional resources available should you wish to learn more, including a State Policy Guide  implementing these programs under ESSA and a deep dive ESSA State-by-State Analysis of how states talked about these programs in their state plans.

More information about CHSA, including how to get in touch any questions about using ESSA to support college in high school programs in your state, can be found here.

August 17, 2018

(ESEA, PERKINS, RURAL EDUCATION, ADVOCACY TOOLS, SCHOOL CHOICE AND VOUCHERS, ED FUNDING, THE ADVOCATE) Permanent link

August Action: No Rest During Recess!

This month, The Advocate is a rehash of the annual advocacy conference and a summary of what summer (August Recess) advocacy can look like. August is a great time for advocacy because your members of Congress are in the home district. This is especially true this year, as a midterm election year, as the members will be spending an even greater amount of time at home through the remainder of the election cycle. The information in this blog post highlights the variety of issues that may come up in conversation, as well as AASA's explicit priorities. 

Every July, AASA holds its annual legislative advocacy conference. This year, it was July 10-12, and more than 200 superintendents and school business officials from across the country came to DC to make the case for continued investment and policy that supports and strengthens the nation’s public schools.
 
2018 is a mid-term election year, one that seems exceptionally partisan and political. Even as things heat up on the campaign trail and Congress begins to turn its attention to home states and home districts over the summer (August) recess and fall rolling up to the November elections, the fact remains there are a bevy of issues that could be impactful and consequential to education. Those issues are the ones that were highlighted during the advocacy conference, and are the ones that you and your fellow educators can use as the basis for any advocacy or outreach you may do during the summer recess and fall, when you may be able to meet with your Congressional delegation while they are home.
 
The education policies that are salient and certain for action are annual appropriations, Perkins Career & Technical Education, Secure Rural Schools/Forest Counties and the Higher Education Act. We also did a quick round up of the other topics that may garner news coverage, come up in conversations in your community, or otherwise emerge on your radar. All of these topics are summarized in our talking points. Use these resources to make the most of the August recess and fall campaign period. Members in the home district are ripe for a visit to a public school, an opportunity to see what the district is doing, what it needs, and how federal policy can bolster the two. We’re bulleting the talking points for our hot issues below, and a fuller summary is available in these talking points. Here’s a quick summary: 
  • Appropriations
    • Thank your members of Congress for the final FY18 package, which provided a $3.9 billion increase to USED, a critical investment that worked to restore the continued pressure of recession cuts. The FY18 allocations must be the starting point for any FY19 discussions. Even with this significant funding increase, the final FY18 allocation is below what it would have been if Congress had level funded USED since FY12 and just adjusted for inflation.
    • AASA and ASBO oppose any effort to direct public dollars to private education. We oppose all vouchers and privatization schema. We ask Congress to continue to prioritize investment in critical formula programs designed to level the playing field, including IDEA, Title I and Title IV. 
    • Urge your delegation to increase investment in the LHHS bills, and direct a larger share of the overall increase in non-defense discretionary funding to LHHS, to support education. 
    • Check out the latest update on Senate action.
     
  • Secure Rural Schools/Forest Counties
    • Wildfires are devastating California, Oregon, Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Idaho and states across the country. California fires are burning forest acreages the size of East Coast cities. As Forest Communities pay the personal and economic price, Congress must act on long term forest management, fire prevention, and Secure Rural Schools.       
    • OVERVIEW: Congress has funded the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program for the short term in the Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 1625). The Consolidated Appropriations Act completed final FY 2018 funding extending SRS with funding for FY 2017 and FY 2018.  SRS funding for two years provides very short term financial support for the disintegrating SRS safety net serving 9 million students and county citizens in 4,400 school districts in 775 forest counties in 41 states. 
    • The Secure Rural Schools safety net program for forest communities is based on historic precedent and agreements begun in 1908 removing federal lands from local tax bases limiting local community management, economic activity and development.  As a long term alternative to SRS, the federal government and Congress have been promising but not delivering a long term system based on sustainable active forest management. 
    • NEXT STEPS:  National forests are burning.  Forest communities are suffering human and economic devastation as the SRS safety net continues to unravel. Forest counties, communities, schools and students continue to the pay the price as extremely dangerous fires devastate local communities while also suffering loss of irreplaceable essential fire, police, road and bridge, community and educational services.  The Administration and Congress must act this year on viable forest management and economic development programs and continue the historic SRS commitment to rural counties, communities, schools, students and citizens.
    • Talking Points:
      • Congress must act on forest management, fire control and long term SRS funding as forest communities and schools fight for economic survival. 
      • SRS is critical to support essential safety, fire, police, road and bridge, and education services. 
      • Thank Members for the critical short term SRS 2017, 2018 funding.
      • Tell your Members what SRS funds mean for students, roads and essential public safety services in his/her communities.  
      • Give examples of what the loss of SRS means to education, roads, bridges, police, fire, and safety programs. 
       
     
  • Higher Education Act
    • Oppose the PROSPER Act! It will harm the district’s ability to hire quality new teachers and will leave teachers with higher debt and fewer incentives to remain in the classroom.
    • Talk about teacher shortage issues in your district, if applicable, to illustrate the reality of the issue in the Representative’s district and provide them with cover for opposing.
    • For Democrats, thank them for their commitment to supporting future teachers, as they are all committed to opposing the PROSPER Act.
     
  • Perkins Career and Technical Education Act
    • Reauthorization of the Perkins program was signed into law earlier this month, bringing an end to what had been a very purposeful, and bipartisan effort on the House side and a rushed, politically pressured process on the Senate side. Sasha created a great overview of what's in the new law.
    • Moving forward, we are concerned with the continued paperwork requirements in the new law. Perkins and ESSA Title IV are funded at the same level—approximately $1.2 billion—though Perkins has significantly more paperwork requirements. We urge Congress to align the paperwork requirements of Perkins to those of ESSA. Under ESSA Title IV, if a district does not receive more than $30,000 they are exempt from completing the comprehensive needs assessment every 3 years detailing how they were spending their funding and describing how they will spend the funding with any partners (if applicable), how they will support the goals of the Title, what they hope to accomplish with their spending and how they will evaluate their effectiveness in achieving these goals. The Perkins program, with a similar authorization and funding level, should mirror these requirements.  
     
  • Other Topics (topics listed below, content in the talking points document)
    • Anti-Integration rider (in the approps bill)
    • WiFi on buses
    • Vouchers
    • Nutrition
    • STOP School Violence Act
    • Medicaid
    • Immigration/DACA
    • Infrastructure
     
 
 

August 7, 2018(1)

(ESEA) Permanent link

ED Issues Guidance on McKinney-Vento Spending

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance directed at McKinney-Vento and Title I State coordinators clarifying how ESSA has changed the use of the Title I homeless reservation. Specifically, the guidance clarifies that an LEA is still required to reserve Title I funds for homeless children and youth even if all schools in the LEA are Title I schools.  Prior to ESSSA, the LEA only had to reserve funds to provide support services for homeless children and youth if they did not attend Title I schools. ESSA changed this provision and the guidance makes clear that the LEA must reserve Title I funds to provide educationally related support services to homeless children and youth regardless of whether they attend a Title I school. In other words, the need to reserve funding for McKinney-Vento services and programs applies even when all schools in an LEA are Title I school (including Title I schoolwide schools) or when an LEA has a mix of Title I schools and non-Title I schools. If the LEA has a mixture of Title I and non-Title I schools then the LEA can use McKinney-Vento funding to provide regular Title I services to homeless students attending non-Title I schools as well as to provide homeless students with services not ordinarily provided to Title I students regardless of the type of school they attend.

To be clear, an LEA is not required to reserve a specific amount of funding for services under McKinney Vento. There is no designated set-aside amount. However, the funding level must be sufficient to provide appropriate services to homeless children. The guidance also says that if an LEA has a small number of homeless children it could use a district-wide per-pupil amount for homeless students if it meets the requirement for serving homeless children in ESEA. ESSA and the guidance also recommends that an LEA conduct a needs assessment to determine how much they should be spending on homeless students and youth. Like in the past, McKinney-Vento funding can be used to pay for a local liaison’s salary and expenses, transportation to/from the school of origin and other services not usually provided to Title I students. 

July 10, 2018

(ESEA, PERKINS, STUDENT DATA PRIVACY, SCHOOL NUTRITION, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED TECH, SCHOOL CHOICE AND VOUCHERS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

AASA ASBO Legislative Advocacy Content

Today we kicked off the 2018 AASA ASBO Legislative Advocacy Conference. This is your one stop shop for all content at the conference, and we will update with slides/presentations as we receive them from presenters. 

 

 

June 18, 2018(1)

(ESEA, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

Bringing ESSA Title IVA to Life: How School Districts Are Spending Title IV Dollars

AASA, The School Superintendents Association partnered with the National Association of Federal Education Program Administrators (NAFEPA) and Whiteboard Advisors to conduct a nation-wide survey of school districts to see how and where school systems are investing critical ESSA Title IV Part A funds. 

Title IV of ESSA, the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) program, is a flexible funding block grant focused on the work of ensuring students and schools have access to the programs that support safe and healthy students, provide well-rounded education, and expand the use of technology in schools. Between NCLB and ESSA, Title IV transformed from a collection of small, stand-alone siloed programs that had been all but zeroed out (ultimately totaling less than $300 million) into a flexible funding block grant, allocated via formula to states and available to all schools, authorized at $1.6 billion. 

The program has broad support from education leaders and practitioners and is perhaps best captured in this elevator pitch submitted in response to this survey: 

No two schools are the same. Our need is not your need, but both needs are relevant to each specific demographic and climate. Increased flexibility increases the likelihood of spending with efficacy. I know you don't always trust me to do the best thing for my kids (although I am confused as to why), but proximity to the need is important to weeding out appropriate supports and solutions. I appreciate your support of my school, and I understand your desire to earmark some funds for specific needs that we share nationally, but I need some spending flexibility if I am to always match support to the need.

Relatively simple in design, ESSA Title IV allocates flexible block grant funding to each state based on the ESSA Title I funding formula, which targets federal funding based on need, where schools and states with a higher share of students in poverty receive greater funding. Funding flows from the federal to the state and the state to the local level in amounts that are proportional to the distribution of Title I funds. Any school district receiving more than $30,000 is required to conduct a needs assessment and submit an application to its state educational agency describing how the district will spend not less than 20 percent of its grant on safe/healthy school initiatives, not less than 20 percent on well-rounded education, and at least a portion on the effective use of technology, with a 15 percent cap on the section’s funding for purchasing “technology infrastructure” (as defined in the law). 

More than 620 school leaders responded to the survey in late May and early June, and you can read the preliminary results here.  

 

June 5, 2018

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

National Title II Day of Action: June 7

 Join Educator Organizations at the National and State Level for a National Day of Action 
in Support of Title II Funding

Earlier this year, AASA was pleased to sign on to a letter supporting funding for Title II of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a program whose funds are in supporting our nation’s educators in meeting the needs of their students. ESSA provides new opportunities for states and districts to use Title II-A funds to attract, support and retain high-quality and diverse educators by providing significantly more time for planning and collaboration, job embedded professional development that is aligned to student and teacher needs, coaching and mentorship. Many states report that Title II-A funds make possible the majority of their professional development for educators. In addition, these funds can be used to support the educator workforce pipeline. Also, twenty-four states have committed to using the optional 3% set-aside in Title II-A to make strategic investments in school leaders

We need every voice, and AASA is proud to support this day of action.

Join us on June 7 for a National Day of Action to advocate for full funding for Title II, Part A (Title II) of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Nearly every district receives Title II funding to support the recruitment, preparation, development, and retention of excellent teachers and school leaders, but the funding for Title II is in danger of being eliminated. The elimination—or significant reduction—of Title II funding would have drastic and negative impacts on teachers, principals, school leaders, and the students they serve. 

Four Simple Ways to Advocate for Title II Funding on June 7

  1. Sign up for our Thunderclap :A Thunderclap is a social media tool to amplify a message. To participate in our Thunderclap, go to https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/70288-title-ii-a-day-of-action and use your Twitter or Facebook account to sign up. On June 7th at exactly 8:30 a.m. (ET), the tool will post an identical message in support of Title II funding to all the supporters’ accounts, amplifying our message to all of their followers and friends.
  2. Send a  letter to Congress: Contact your Congressional delegation. Need the name and email address of the education staffer in your Representative or Senators' office? Email Noelle or Leslie. Have your letter focus on  the importance of Title II, and its importance in providing professional development for educators. Below is a draft letter you use for reference:

    Dear ____,
    I am writing as a constituent, as a leader in my school, and as a leader in my community to strongly urge you to provide full funding for the Title II, Part A program in FY 2019. As an educator, I was encouraged when Congress passed the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015. ESSA provided new opportunities for schools to invest in our nation’s teachers, principals and other school leaders.

    Recently, though, I have become alarmed by the very real prospect that Congress will not provide any funding at all for Title II in FY 2019. President Trump’s proposed FY 2019 budget would eliminate all funding for the program. This is dangerously shortsighted because it would severely disrupt many states’ ESSA implementation plans and hamper our efforts to increase student achievement.

    Tile II, Part A provides critical funding to states for the purposes of preparing, training, recruiting, and retaining high-quality teachers, principals, assistant principals, and other school leaders. These groups all play a critical in ensuring that our nation's students have a high-quality learning experience through high school in order to be college and career ready. To aid students effectively, teachers, principals and other school leaders must be afforded the necessary opportunities for professional learning and growth as they work to improve teaching and learning in all schools.

    While I am extremely disheartened by President Trump's proposal, there is still a chance for Congress to reverse course and fully restore funding for Title II, Part A at its ESSA authorized level of $2.295 billion in FY 2019.  Thank you for your consideration, and for your support of our nation's educators and students.

    Sincerely, [Educator’s name]

  3. Call your members in Congress: Unsure who your representative is? Visit the Find Your Representative tool. Unsure what to say? Here is a script you can use when speaking to a staff member of the office.

    -  I am extremely concerned that President Trump sought to eliminate funding for Title II, Part A in his FY 2019 budget because this will severely disrupt many states’ ESSA implementation plans and hamper educator’s efforts to increase student achievement.
    -  I urge Senator/Representative [insert name] to restore Title II, Part A funding to its ESSA authorized level of $2.295 billion in FY 2019.
    - Given the unique role that principals and teachers play in ensuring that our nation's students have high-quality learning experiences in order to be college and career ready, educators must be afforded the necessary opportunities for professional learning and growth as they work to improve teaching and learning in all schools.
    - I am a [insert title and organizational affiliation] and I am calling to urge Senator/Representative [insert name here] to restore cuts made to Title II, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Title II, Part A provides critical funding to states for the purposes of preparing, training, recruiting, and retaining high-quality teachers, principals, assistant principals, and other school leaders.

  4. Tweet using #TitleIIA @[Senators and Reps]: Here are some sample tweets you can use:

    #TitleIIA is critical for teachers, school leaders, and principals to do their jobs effectively; cuts threaten this ability.

    Millions of teachers, principals, and school leaders depend on #TitleIIA to improve schools and instruction in the classroom.

    #ESSA allows states to use 3% of #TitleIIA funds for PD for principals; cutting decreases the chances to seize this opportunity.

    Each #ESSA plan is relying on #TitleIIA dollars to implement programs that will train educators on how to improve student achievement. Congress, give the states what they want by supporting full funding for #TitleIIA!

    The quality of teaching and leadership in schools are the two most significant in-school factors tied to student achievement. #TitleIIA

    #TitleIIA supports increased student academic achievement by promoting strategies that will positively affect educator effectiveness.

    Educators and students deserve schools led by great principals. Tell Congress to maintain school leadership funding through #TitleIIA

    Educators and students deserve schools filled with outstanding teachers. Tell Congress to maintain professional development funding for teachers through #TitleIIA

    Students and teachers need great principals to thrive—Tell Congress: Don't cut school leadership funding! #TitleIIA

    Without great principals, we won't have great schools. Tell Congress to maintain school leadership funding! #TitleIIA

    Educators: Join us in telling Congress not to cut school leadership funding! #TitleIIA

We hope you can join us on June 7th to support our nation’s teachers, principals and other school leaders! 

May 24, 2018(1)

(ESEA, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

USED Announces Upcoming Webinars for LEAs re: Student-Centered Funding Pilot

AASA received the following information in an email from the US Education Department:

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced a new pilot to afford local educational agencies (LEAs) flexibility to create equitable, student-centered funding systems.  The purpose of this pilot is to provide an LEA with the flexibility to combine state, local, and eligible federal funds that it will allocate to schools using a formula that provides additional funding for students from low-income families, English learners, and other disadvantaged students.  In exchange for meeting the requirements of the pilot and using a student-centered funding formula, the LEA receives freedom from many of the federal require-ments for the funds included in the system (e.g., tracking time and attendance; creating schoolwide needs assessments and schoolwide plans for operating a schoolwide program under Title I, Part A; spending funds on particular allowable uses). 

The Department first accepted applications in March and will accept a second round of applications by July 15, 2018.  Please note that the Department recently updated the application, which is available on our website.

To support LEAs interested in applying this summer, the Department is hosting a series of two webinars, each of which will be repeated. 

 

 

The intended audience is LEA staff, though other interested parties are also welcome.  To join a webinar, please select the link for the relevant session.  The webinars will be recorded, and the recordings as well as slides will be posted with related resources on our website.  

An LEA applying by July 15, 2018, will be proposing a system that would be implemented in the 2019-2020 school year, which provides time for transition to implementing an approved plan.  We are eager to receive applications from interested LEAs who share our enthusiasm about the program, the flexibility it gives local leaders, and its potential impact on equity and transparency in resource allocation.  If you have questions about the webinars or the application, please contact WeightedFundingPilot@ed.gov

 

 

May 24, 2018

(ESEA) Permanent link

Meaningful Local Engagement Under ESSA: Issue 2

AASA was pleased to collaborate and contribute with a handful of education organizations to the latest handbook from Opportunity Institute and Council of Chief State School Officers to support local leaders working more collaboratively to include students, families, educators and partners into the ESSA policy making and implementation process. 

The handbook is titled Meaningful Local Engagement Under ESSA Issue 2: A Handbook for Local Leaders  on Engagement in School Improvement and is designed for state education leaders, school and district leaders and advocates to inform efforts to engage peers and stakeholders in all aspects of planning and implementation of ESSA. This handbook is a follow up to Meaningful Local Engagement Under ESSA: Issue 1.

Access the handbook

April 5, 2018

(ESEA, E-RATE, ED TECH) Permanent link

Homework Gap: ESSA Report Details Trends and Opportunities

9 months after it was due, we finally have the ESSA-required report on the homework gap, which tasked the Institute of Education Sciences to look at the educational impact of access to digital learning resources (DLR) outside of the classroom. The specific asks of the report included: 

 

  1. An analysis of student habits related to DLR outside of the classroom, including the location and types of devices and technologies that students use for educational purposes;
  2. An identification of the barriers students face in accessing DLR outside of the classroom;
  3. A description of the challenges that students who lack home internet access face, including challenges related to student participation and engagement in the classroom and homework completion;
  4. An analysis of how the barriers and challenges such students face impact the instructional practices of educators; and
  5. A description of the ways in which state education agencies, local education agencies, schools, and other entities, including partnerships of such entities, have developed effective means to address the barriers and challenges students face in accessing DLR outside of the classroom.

AASA has followed the issue of the homework gap for one simple reason: as schools, teachers and classrooms are increasingly reliant on internet access to support teaching and learning, the lack of access at home represents a very real obstacle for students. They can’t do their homework not because they’re lazy or don’t understand it, but because they don’t have access. This report was required, in part, to examine the extent of uneven access to internet and connected devices at home. Top line take aways:

 

  • Nearly two-thirds (61%) of children use the internet at home, meaning over one-third (39%) do not. This is a significant share, and interesting given that 91% of students have access to connectivity at home, meaning that they live in a house with a device they don’t have access to. The big take away, however, is that 1/3 of students don’t use the internet.
  • Between 2010 and 2015, the share of students with access to high-speed internet at home fell from 89 to 78 percent. 
  • The top two reasons why children (ages 3 to 18) lacked access to the internet at home were listed as cost (too expensive) or that their family did not need it/was not interested in having access.
  • The report showed higher average achievement scores for students who used computers at home and/or had internet access at home that those did not. An important caveat: this analysis did not systematically consider the myriad socioeconomic background characteristics that are known to impact student achievement. 

 

Want to read more ? Check out the executive summary or the full report

March 22, 2018

(ESEA, IDEA, PERKINS, RURAL EDUCATION, SCHOOL CHOICE AND VOUCHERS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

AASA Supports FY18 Omnibus Appropriations Bill

Earlier today, AASA sent a letter to Capitol Hill supporting the FY18 omnibus appropriations bill. This is the bill that provides the federal funding that will be in public schools in the 2018-19 school year. This is a vote that comes nearly six months after FY18 started, and the vote follows two federal shutdowns. Overall, the bill makes important increased investments in programs that support public schools. We’ll be sending our full analysis later today.

Read our letter.

February 23, 2018(1)

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

AASA Partners with Educational Organizations on Updated ESSA Timeline

The Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) just released its latest ESSA Implementation Timeline: A Guide to Key State and Local Processes. In leading this work, CCSSO has convened multiple stakeholders, including AASA, to generate the report. 

The timeline outlines key state and local actions and planning processes in these initial years of implementing new accountability, reporting, and school improvement systems, from the 2017-18 school year through 2020-21 and beyond. It also documents application and funding timelines for federal programs under ESSA, as well as opportunities and expectations for continuous improvement over time. The timeline highlights both the commonalities across states in actions and timing under the law, but also the variation in timing as SEAs and LEAs implement the law within their unique contexts (indicated through visual “windows” of time).

Access the timeline here

February 22, 2018(1)

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

AASA Sends Letter Opposing Language That Prohibits Use of Federal Funds for Transportation

Earlier this week, AASA sent a letter to Congressional appropriators expressing our opposition to rider language that prohibits the use of federal funding to support school integration via transportation. The language originates from a time when opposition to court-ordered public school racial integration was very high. The idea that such language persists today, when racial resegregation of public schools has surged, and when so many districts are voluntarily working to combat this trend by promoting equity and integration—both racial and economic—for the benefit of their students and their community, is unacceptable.

Read the full letter.

February 21, 2018

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

ESSA's Weighted Student Funding Pilot: Now Accepting Applications!

When ESSA was signed into law in December 2015, it included a new pilot that would allow school districts additional flexibility to better target their resources within and between schools in their district. Through the pilot, USED can allow up to 50 school districts to participate initially.

Districts participating in the pilot will be able to combine federal, state and local dollars into a single funding stream tied to individual students. Students that cost more to educate—including English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and students in poverty—would carry more ‘weight’, meaning more money. Through this pilot, ESSA provides flexibility within and between funding streams that can otherwise inhibit the ability of districts to more accurately and meaningfully target funding; this pilot is an opportunity for districts to demonstrate how WSF better meets district needs while still complying with underlying statute. With this flexibility, LEAs can combine eligible Federal funds with State and local funds to create a single, student-centered funding system. A student-centered funding system in the context of the pilot is a funding system based on weights that allocate substantially more for students from low-income families, English learners, and other educationally disadvantaged student groups. 

The Department will host identical webinars -- February 21 from 2:00 to 3:30 PM Eastern Time and February 22 from 12:30 to 2:00 PM Eastern Time -- regarding new flexibility for school districts to create equitable, student-centered funding systems under a pilot program authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  The webinars will clarify the opportunity interested LEAs have to apply for flexibility to implement a student-centered funding system as part of a pilot authorized by ESSA. Pre-registration is not required.  The webinars will be recorded and posted -- with slides -- on the pilot web page.  (Note: The official application is available; the application deadline is March 12 for districts intending to implement in school year 2018-19 and July 15 for districts intending to implement in school year 2019-20.)

 

February 20, 2018

(ESEA, IDEA, PERKINS, RURAL EDUCATION, E-RATE, SCHOOL NUTRITION, WELL-BEING, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED TECH, SCHOOL CHOICE AND VOUCHERS, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

Policy Recap from NCE

It was great to see so many of you in Nashville for NCE last week - we hope you learned a lot (and had some fun)! Here is a roundup of what our team was involved with at the conference:

 

 

February 12, 2018(1)

(ESEA, RURAL EDUCATION, ADVOCACY TOOLS, THE ADVOCATE) Permanent link

AASA and Rural School and Community Trust File Joint Response to USED Draft Report on Rural Education

Last December, USED released Section 5005 Report on Rural Education, its preliminary report on how the agency supports and serves rural education, as required by the Every Student Succeeds Act. As a draft report, it is open to public comment and feedback. AASA joined forces with the Rural School and Community Trust in our joint set of comments, which you can read here

In a nutshell, our groups are concerned that the report missed the mark and fails to address the questions and tasks outlined in statute, and managed this incomplete response more than 6 months behind schedule. As a point of reference, AASA is following three reports required by ESSA (rural, Title I formula, and homework gap), all of which were due June of 2017, and to date, only the rural report has been completed. The report details events that were hosted or facilitated but failed to report or demonstrate how rural and community feedback and experience is meaningfully and purposefully reflected in education policy.

When we consider that 70% of our nation's schools enroll less than 2,500 students, and a full 50% enroll less than 1,000, the role of rural education and its unique opportunities and obstacles should be a front-row driver of education policy. Our nation's rural schools enroll more students than the nation's 75 largest school systems combined, yet the rural voice and perspective is often and after thought in federal education policy discussions. 

The formal comments delve into deeper detail and response about what USED had reported and what it means for schools.

"It was our sincere hope, with an additional six months, the department would have been successful in releasing a draft report for public comment that is detailed, accountable, and outcomes-based, and outlined an action item framework that USED was tasked by Congress to propose, including a pathway for implementation.  The preliminary report, as drafted, falls short of this goal and remains an incomplete work.  We urge USED to review thoroughly all public comments, incorporate them the final report, and announce a date when the final report will be submitted to Congress."

January 31, 2018

(ESEA) Permanent link

Coalition Letter Asks: Where's the ESSA Homework Gap Report?

Among other things, ESSA included language requiring reports on a handful of topics. Three in particular are of interest to AASA:

 

  • A report looking at rural education and the role of USED in assuring rural opportunity and the unique needs of rural schools/communities
  • A report looking at the ESSA Title I formula and how it's weighting constructs do (or do not) truly meet the goal of ensuring dollars are allocated equitably, with greater dollars flowing to areas of greater need
  • A report looking at the homework gap, or the frequency with which students lack internet access at home

All three of these reports were due in June of 2017, 18 months after the bill was signed into law. As of today, ony the rural report has been released, and even that one was six months late.

To that end, AASA was pleased to be one of 20 national organizations signing a joint letter to the director of the Institute of Education Sciences asking about the status of the report. Read the letter.

 

January 10, 2018

(ESEA) Permanent link

USED Letter Details School Improvement Grant Flexibilities

USED Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Jason Botel sent the following letter to state education agencies detailing flexbilities within the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program:

 

Dear Colleague:

I am writing regarding the implementation of the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), to follow up on the Dear Colleague letter (available at https://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/sigdirapplicationltr3292016.pdf) sent on March 29, 2016, regarding the use of remaining SIG funds and to update you on SIG reporting requirements. 

Use of remaining SIG funds

In the letter dated March 29, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) explained that a State must continue to comply with the SIG final requirements throughout the period of availability of any remaining SIG funds, including any extended period of availability pursuant to waivers of the period of availability of SIG funds.  The letter also explained that a State could, but was not required to, use funds that it reserved in fiscal year 2017 and future years under section 1003(a) of the ESEA, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), to support full implementation of SIG awards initially made with prior-year funds. 

Many States have contacted the Department to request additional flexibility regarding the use of remaining SIG funds.  States have cited as reasons for their request waning interest from local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools in applying for or implementing SIG in light of the new requirements in ESSA, the large amount of remaining SIG funds and the States’ focus on fully transitioning to ESSA.  Given these reasons, the Department supports States’ interest in increased flexibility for the use of SIG funds.  

Accordingly, pursuant to the authority to ensure an orderly transition authority to the ESSA, a State may, at its discretion, use any remaining SIG funds either: (1) consistent with the SIG final requirements; or (2) consistent with the requirements of section 1003 of the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA.  A State that decides to use some or all of its remaining SIG funds consistent with section 1003 of the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA, may, at its discretion, permit an LEA that is currently implementing SIG to transition to the requirements of section 1003 of the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA, with its remaining SIG funds.   

SIG reporting requirements

The SIG final requirements require each State to submit a number of SIG-specific data and reporting elements for SIG schools to the Department on an annual basis.  Because the SIG program is eliminated under the ESSA, it is no longer necessary for States to continue to meet those SIG-specific reporting requirements.  Thus, consistent with the provisions of the ESSA that authorize the Secretary to ensure an orderly transition to the new law, the Department will no longer require a State to report SIG-specific data to the Department (see EDFacts C167 at https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/edfacts/eden/non-xml/c167-12-0.doc).  

Should you need further clarification or have any questions, please contact your State program officer in the Office of State Support.

December 22, 2017

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS) Permanent link

ESSA Fiscal Transparency: Webinar Q&A Transcript

Earlier this month, AASA hosted a webinar about the fiscal transparency requirements within the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA includes a new fiscal transparency reporting requirement, whereby states will have to detail per pupil expenditures at the school and district level. This will have implications for districts in ensuring they understand their own allocation constructs, what it means for the schools they serve, and how it can be perceived in the community. The webinar detailed what the requirement entails, what it will mean for state and district leaders, and things for districts to consider as they share this information with their communities. 

 

  • You can access an archived copy of the webinar here
  • Q&A: You can read the transcript of the Q&A portion of the webinar. 
  • The Q&A references a handout with additional detail on the reporting requirement, which you can access here

 

December 20, 2017

(ESEA) Permanent link

Toolkit for ESSA Early Learning Requirements

Under ESSA, districts receiving Title I funds now face new requirements and opportunities regarding early childhood programs. We were happy to take part in developing a toolkit for superintendents to use to understand these new requirements and opportunities and especially to assist in the development of agreements with Head Start and other early childhood programs, as is now required. The toolkit, available here, includes and explanation of all of ESSA's early childhood components as well as sample MOUs that can be used by superintendents when developing their own agreements.

December 13, 2017(1)

(ESEA, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

ESSA Stakeholder Engagement: Continuing the Conversation

Since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) has convened a broad group of education associations to talk and work through the important work of stakeholder engagement. AASA has been involved in the conversations and is pleased to share the latest CCSSO publication, Let's Continue This Conversation: How to Turn New Stakeholder Connections into Long-Term Relationships

As the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) begins, now is the time to reiterate your commitment and turn these new connections into long-term relationships by establishing sustainable ways to continue to listen to, inform and learn from your stakeholders. This guide is intended to help states assess the engagement strategies used during the ESSA development stage, identify the ones to sustain or refine, and develop a long-term plan that will continue to create opportunities for stakeholders to be heard on this and other education issues. You can access it on the CCSSO website, as well. 

December 11 2017

(ESEA) Permanent link

Transition for ESSA Title I supplement, not supplant requirements

Last week, USED sent a note to State Education Agency (SEA) Title I Directors, regarding the timeline for compliance with the supplement, not supplant (SNS) requirements in ESSA. We share it here for your reference, and so you know what has been shared with your state agency.

Dear Colleague:

Thank you for your continued efforts to implement the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  To facilitate implementation and ensure a smooth transition to the new law, I am writing to inform you that the U.S. Department of Education (Department) will provide State educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs) additional time to implement the new requirement in section 1118(b)(2) of the ESEA for demonstrating compliance with the supplement not supplant requirement under Title I, Part A (Title I) of the ESEA.  In addition, I would like to highlight steps the Department is taking to support SEAs and LEAs in implementing this important new requirement.

Timeline for Implementation: Under section 1118(b)(2) of the ESEA, “[t]o demonstrate compliance with [the supplement not supplant requirement], a local educational agency shall demonstrate that the methodology used to allocate State and local funds to each school receiving [Title I funds] ensures that such school receives all of the State and local funds it would otherwise receive if it were not receiving [Title I funds].”  With respect to the timeline for implementation, section 1118(b)(5) of the ESEA requires that an LEA meet the compliance requirement not later than two years after the date of enactment of the ESSA— i.e., December 10, 2017.  We are aware that some SEAs and LEAs are taking steps to develop a methodology or use an existing methodology that meets the new compliance requirement by December 10, 2017, and we encourage those SEAs and LEAs to move forward with their process.  We also recognize that for many LEAs it may not be reasonable to implement a new methodology in the middle of a school year and that the first implementation of the methodology cannot occur until the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.  Therefore, consistent with section 4(b) of the ESSA, which authorizes the Department to ensure an orderly transition to the new law, an SEA and its LEAs may delay meeting the compliance requirement in section 1118(b)(2) of the ESEA until the start of the 2018-2019 school year.  That is, an LEA does not need to have its methodology in place on December 10, 2017, but the LEA must have a methodology in place in time for the LEA to use it when ensuring that Title I funds are supplementing, and not supplanting, other State and local funds in the 2018-2019 school year. Of course, ESEA still requires that, even if the new methodology is not yet in place, SEAs and LEAs are utilizing all Title I, Part A funds only to supplement the funds that would, in the absence of such Title I, Part A funds, be made available from State and local sources for the education of students participating in programs assisted under Title I, Part A, and not to supplant, such State and local funds.

Additional Support: The supplement not supplant requirement under Title I remains critically important to ensuring that Title I funds provide additional resources to students and teachers in Title I schools that have high concentrations of students from low-income families to counteract the effects of poverty in order to make it more likely that all children are provided significant opportunity to receive a “fair, equitable, and high-quality education and to close educational achievement gaps,” which is identified in section 1001 of the ESEA as the purpose of Title I.  Therefore, we are committed to supporting SEAs and LEAs as they move forward with implementation of this critical requirement.  Part of this commitment is to meet with various stakeholders to receive input toward developing non-regulatory guidance on the new Title I supplement not supplant requirement to support SEAs and LEAs to making the transition to this new requirement.  

Thank you again for the work that you continue to do to implement the ESEA.  Please send suggestions of questions or topics that you would like to see the guidance address to your Office of State Support program officer at OSS.[State]@ed.gov (e.g., OSS.Nebraska@ed.gov) on or before January 17, 2018.

Sincerely,

Patrick Rooney
Deputy Director

Office of State Support

June 27, 2017

(ESEA, GUEST BLOGS) Permanent link

Guest Blog: Our Independent Review of State ESSA Plans and What We Found

Today's guest blog comes from our friends at Collaborative for Student Success. This blog post in is coordination with the release of their broader review of ESSA plans. The Collaborative partnered with Bellwether Education to convene more than 30 bipartisan education policy experts to review state plans.

Several weeks ago, we told you about our independent peer review of state ESSA plans. Since the Every Student Succeeds Act passed with bipartisan congressional support and was signed by President Obama, there has been much debate about how states will – and should – use this opportunity to make bold decisions in designing their new accountability systems.

That’s why the Collaborative for Student Success  teamed up with Bellwether Education Partners to spearhead an independent peer review of these plans. Our effort looks beyond compliance, and focuses in on how states can improve their accountability systems. Our goal is to provide states, districts, parents, teachers and advocates with an additional level of feedback to help ensure that state systems are serving all students and providing a more equitable learning environment that fosters success. We assembled a list of phenomenal expert peer reviewers who boast diversity, partisan balance, and state and national expertise. 

Today, we will release the results of this peer review process.

Our findings already went to state departments of education and Governor’s offices. It is our goal to be as transparent as possible – this is not a “Gotcha” exercise, but it is an advocacy tool. We believe that by using our peer review process, the 17 states that have already submitted a plan can improve upon it, and that the 34 states that will submit a report in September can apply our recommendations. We sincerely hope that through implementation efforts at the state, district and school level, these ideas will help improve classroom results for students, parents, and teachers. 

Here are some high-level findings, beginning with some noteworthy strengths across the state plans

 

  • We saw much more robust measures of school quality (e.g. including science, art, physical education). Several states were looking to promote more holistic views of school quality;
  • At the high school level, states are pursuing a number of innovative college- and career-readiness indicators (AP, IB, SAT/ ACT, industry certifications, etc.) and refocusing efforts to ensure students are prepared for life after high school;
  • All 17 states included some measure of student growth; and 
  • Even though states could opt to include new, additional indicators of school quality, they are continuing to place strong weight on academics 

 

You will see that we have gone to great lengths to highlight the best practices we found in the 17 state plans so far, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t also push for plan improvements

 

  • Too many states had goals that were untethered to the state’s long-term visions or were ignored in the accountability system;
  • There is a troubling shift across states towards normative accountability systems, focused on how schools compare with one another, not an external standard; and  
  • Our peers believe that state plans can do more upfront to ensure student subgroups are not overlooked or overshadowed. Our peers had a strong equity lens and as a result, no state received the highest mark possible for having adequate checks in place to ensure all students and subgroups are tended too. 

 

Lastly, an important point to make which has direct impact on district leaders: these state plans had vague or underdeveloped school improvement plans, with only one state earning the highest mark possible for its proposals to actually turn around low-performing schools. This is a key area where states must do better, as the primary purpose of accountability systems is to drive school improvement.

How can you help? As part of our announcement today we are also launching a new website, CheckStatePlans.org. This interactive, user-friendly website will help parents and community members make sense of complicated state ESSA plans. We encourage you to share this information with colleagues and policymakers in your state. We hope you use it to help advocate for the changes that will strengthen your state plan and help ensure meaningful accountability. 

 

June 12, 2017

(ESEA, PERKINS, ADVOCACY TOOLS) Permanent link

So-called “soft skills” have hard-hitting value in the workplace.

Today's guest blog comes from AASA friend Maria Ferguson, executive director at the Center on Education Policy.

If “college and career readiness” was the catchall phrase for the education reform movement circa 2008-2016, “the skills gap” is on deck to take its place for 2017. It seems everyone these days is talking about skills and competencies and their value in the labor market. Although rigorous academic preparation and college readiness remains a constant target for educators, employers are becoming increasing active and vocal about the skills gap and what it means to be career ready.  

Despite widespread agreement among educators and policymakers that students need to be prepared for the demands of both academia and the workplace, there has always been divide between what it means to prepare for college vs. work. 

Often referred to as “soft skills,” workplace skills and competencies often end up on the wrong side of the divide for a range of reasons. Part of the divide is purely practical: How can one system prepare students for college while giving them the experiences they need to develop workplace skills and competencies? In other ways the divide is much more class-based, with low performing students (often poor and at risk) directed towards career and/or technical education and stronger students aiming for college. And finally there is the issue of measurement. There is still no widely accepted, fully validated measurement tool for assessing skills and competencies. 

A new report from the Center on Education Policy at George Washington University (the organization I lead) reminds us why the divide between academic and career readiness is increasingly antiquated. The report, Building Competencies for Careers, finds that most jobs and careers require individuals that have both academic knowledge and one or more common skills and competencies. 

The report drew on information from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Information Network (O*NET) database. O*NET uses surveys data from employees and occupational experts to determine the characteristics of more than 900 occupations, including the important knowledge, skills, abilities and work styles required for each occupational area. The report finds that among the 301 occupations in CEP’s sample of O*NET occupations, all required one or more of six competencies that are essential for students to master as they prepare for both college and career. 

To conduct the study, CEP researchers used the six deeper learning competencies develop by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation:  mastering core academic content; thinking critically and solving complex problems; working collaboratively; communicating effectively; learning how to learn; and developing academic mindsets. CEP “linked” these competencies to similar O*NET categories and analyzed how relevant each of the deeper learning competencies were for a range of jobs and occupations. 

While all of the jobs analyzed by CEP require one or more of the deeper learning competencies, experts found several competencies to be most important. Developing an academic mindset, a competency about which prominent education researchers like Carol Dweck and Angela Duckworth have written extensively, was highly prized across all of O*NET’s jobs and occupations. Also important were personal initiative and the ability to communicate and collaborate effectively. 

These competencies were found to be important for what O*NET calls Bright Outlook occupations – those that are expected to grow rapidly, have a large number of openings or are new or emerging. The deeper learning competencies also were more important for occupations requiring higher levels of experience, education and training than for entry-level type jobs. The study suggests that schools that can provide students with the opportunity to learn these kinds of skills and competencies along with subject area content will help better prepare graduates for a wide range of jobs and careers. 

But providing all students with the opportunity to develop these skills and competencies (in addition to learning rigorous academic content) is not so easy to do and requires an array of resources. If education and business leaders are serious about closing the skills gap, schools can’t be solely responsible for fixing the problem. Families, communities and business leader also have to do their part to help ensure students are both college and career ready. 

I predict the conversations about closing the skills gap will not end any time soon. Although the NCLB era is behind us, there is still reluctance among policymakers to value any skill or competency unless it can be adequately measured. While part of that reluctance may be justified, it is also important for education leaders to heed employer feedback about the range of knowledge, skills and experience needed to keep the U.S. economy strong and vibrant. College and career readiness should not be a zero sum game. 

For a copy of the report plus additional resources, please visit CEP at www.cep-dc.org

June 7, 2017

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

June Advocacy Challenge, Part 2: ESSA Title II Funding

This month's second advocacy challenge--all about funding for Title II of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)--is  a little different than earlier versions (all available here). For the second June 2017 advocacy challenge, we are asking our members to participate in a coordinated national Title II Day of Action (on June 14) to advocate for the policies that could significantly impact school leaders, principals, teachers, other educators and the students they serve.
AASA is pleased to partner with 
AFSA, NAESP, NASSP, Learning Forward, ASCD, 
and New Leaders for a National Day of Action. This is in response to President Trump's proposed budget for FY18. You can read AASA's full response and analysis on the blog.

                                            3 Simple Ways to Participate in Advocacy on June 14
  1. Send a prewritten letter to Congress: Use our easy advocacy tool to send this pre-drafted letter to Congress about the importance of Title II, Part A of ESSA, which is critical to providing professional development for school leaders and educators. (You can also send a pre-loaded letter using NASSP's Legislative Action Center, which is open to non-NASSP members.)

    Dear ____,

    I am writing as a constituent, as a leader in my school, and as a leader in my community to strongly urge you to provide full funding for the Title II, Part A program in FY 2018.

    As a school leader, I was encouraged when Congress passed the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015. ESSA provided new opportunities for schools to invest in principal leadership and support for our previously overlooked profession. In fact, many states have wisely already taken advantage of the optional 3 percent state set aside of Title II, Part A funds for school leadership specific activities.

    Title II already saw a drastic reduction this year when $249 million was cut from the program for FY 2017. Despite these already harmful cuts, President Trump has proposed to completely eliminate funding for Title II, Part A in his FY 2018 Budget Request. This is not only dangerously shortsighted, it would severely disrupt many states’ ESSA implementation plans, and hamper our efforts to increase student achievement.

    Tile II, Part A provides critical funding to states for the purposes of preparing, training, recruiting, and retaining high-quality teachers, principals, assistant principals, and other school leaders. Given the unique role that principals play in ensuring that our nation's teachers are supported, and that our students have a high-quality learning experience through high school in order to be college and career ready, principals must be afforded the necessary opportunities for professional learning and growth as they work to improve teaching and learning in all schools.

    I am extremely disheartened by President Trump's proposal and urge you to fully restore funding for Title II, Part A in FY 2018.

    Thank you for your consideration, and for your support of our nation's educators and students.

    Sincerely,
    [Educator’s name]

  2. Tweet #TitleIIA, #FundTitleIIA @[Senators and Reps]
    Here are some sample tweets you can use:
    • #TitleIIA allows states and districts to improve teaching and school leadership through professional learning
    • #TitleIIA is critical for achieving the goals around equity and excellence in ESSA.
    • Fund #TitleIIA to support increased student achievement by promoting strategies to positively affect teacher and principal effectiveness.
    • Fund #TitleIIA, it is critical for school leaders and principals to do their jobs effectively, cuts threaten this ability
    • Millions of school leaders depend on #TitleIIA to improve schools and instruction in the classroom, fully #FundTitleIIA
    • #ESSA allows states to use 3% of #TitleIIA funds for PD for principals, cutting decreases the chances to seize this opportunity 
    • Fund #TitleIIA and give state #ESSA plans a chance to work!
  3. Call your members in Congress!  Unsure who your Representative is? – Visit the Find Your Representative tool. Unsure what to say? - Here is a script you can use when speaking to staff member of the office.
    • I am a [insert title and organizational affiliation] and I am calling to urge Senator/Representative [insert name here] to restore cuts made to Title II, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which provides principals, school leaders and all educators with specific professional development opportunities. It also provides critical funding to states for the purposes of preparing, training, recruiting, and retaining high-quality teachers, principals, assistant principals, and other school leaders.
    • I am extremely concerned about the deep cuts made to Title II, Part A and believe this will severely disrupt many states’ ESSA implementation plans, and hamper our efforts to increase student achievement.
    • Given the unique role that principals play in ensuring that our nation's teachers are supported, and that our students have a high-quality learning experiences in order to be college and career ready, principals must be afforded the necessary opportunities for professional learning and growth as they work to improve teaching and learning in all schools. 
    • I urge Senator/Representative [insert name] to restore Title II, Part A funding.
     
 

May 30, 2017

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

USED Shares Preliminary FY 2017 State Allocations for ESEA Title IV, Part A

USED has released preliminary FY 2017 state allocations for ESEA Title IV, Part A. In a message to state chief school officers, they provide initial allocations for states via ESSA Title IV Part A:

The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2017 was signed into law on May 5, 2017.  It appropriated funding for Title IV, Part A, Student Support and Academic Enrichment Program State Grants. 

The Fiscal Year 2017 preliminary allocation, by State, can be found here.  While the amounts are not yet final, these estimates may be helpful in planning and informing decisions at the State level.  A final allocation table will be issued prior to the distribution of Grant Award Notification documents on July 1, 2017.

Additional information on this program may be found at https://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/resources/essa-title-iv-part-student-support-and-academic-enrichment-non-regulatory-guidance-webinar.

Also, please note this program is part of the Revised State Plan Assurances Template released on May 17, 2017.  These assurances must be returned to the U.S. Department of Education by June 2, 2017, to ensure timely allocation of FY 2017 funds.

You may find more information about federal education funding by State at https://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/statetables/index.html.

May 12, 2017

(ESEA, IDEA, RURAL EDUCATION, WELL-BEING, SCHOOL CHOICE AND VOUCHERS, ED FUNDING, THE ADVOCATE) Permanent link

The Advocate, May 2017

By Noelle Ellerson, associate executive director, Policy and Advocacy, AASA

As April came to an end, we weren’t sure whether to breathe a sigh of relief or to buckle down for another exciting month of activity on Capitol Hill. If the first week of the month is any indication, the latter is our better option.

In a span of 48 hours, Congress passed the final FY17 funding bill and the House voted to advance the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which will now move to the Senate. Let’s unpack that and examine what that means for school superintendents and our federal advocacy.

In adopting the final federal fiscal year 2017 (FY17) budget, Congress avoided a federal shutdown and completed the FY17 fiscal process, 7 months into (more than half way through!) the very year they were funding. As a reminder, FY17 dollars will be in your schools for the 2017-18 school year and will support the first year of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) implementation. You can read AASA’s letter in response to the package outlining our concerns and the areas we support. Here’s a quick run-down of what the final FY17 package means for education:

  • Provides $66.9 billion for USED (accounting for Pell rescission), a $1.1 b cut from FY16
  • ESSA
    • Title I increase of $550 million (includes $450 m from SIG consolidation and $100 m in new funding; will still leave school districts short $100 m for ESSA implementation)
    • Title II is cut by $294 m (13%)
    • Title IV is funded at $400 m, and states can choose to run it competitively
  • IDEA receives $90 m increase (Federal share just over 16%)
  • Impact Aid increase $23 m
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers increase $25 m
  • Head Start increase $85 million
  • Includes reauthorization of DC voucher program
  • Does NOT include funding for Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program

Less than 48 hours later, the House voted to adopt the American Health Care Act (ACHA) to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). AASA opposed the bill, given its draconian cuts to Medicaid and negative impact on students. Our letter of opposition—penned in coordination with the Save Medicaid in Schools Coalition, which AASA co-chairs, is available here. (The coalition also issued a statement after the bill was passed.)

Rather than close the gap and eliminate the rate of uninsured children in America, the current proposal will ration the health care America’s most vulnerable children receive and undermine the ability of districts to meet the educational needs of students with disabilities and students in poverty. Children represent 46% of all Medicaid beneficiaries yet represent only 19% of the costs. Currently, 4-5 billion dollars flow to school districts every year, so they can make sure students with disabilities who need the help of therapists can learn and that students who can’t get to a doctor regularly can receive the basic medical care they need to learn and thrive. ACHA will jeopardize students’ ability to receive comprehensive care at schools and create barriers to access.

ACHA will undermine critical healthcare services my district provides to children. It would also lead to layoffs of school personnel, the potential for new taxes to compensate for the Medicaid shortfall, and shifting general education dollars to special education programs to compensate for these cuts.

We now pivot our efforts to the Senate. While the upper chamber will NOT be considering the House bill as passed, they will craft their own proposal, and we anticipate it will have strong similarities to the House bill. 

The rest of May will include the full details on President Trump’s FY18 budget proposal, anticipated release of his tax reform, further consideration of the House proposal to reauthorize the Perkins Career and Technical Education Program, and more.

As always, please feel free to reach out to the advocacy team with any questions. We will have two separate monthly advocacy challenges in May—one on rural and one on the FY18 budget proposal. We remain very appreciative of everything you can do to support this challenge and commit to contacting your members of Congress once per month. 

 

 

May 11, 2017(2)

(ESEA, RURAL EDUCATION, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

May Advocacy Challenge: Rural Education

This month's advocacy challenge (find the full 2017 Superintendent Advocacy Challenge here!) is all about rural. And in fact, is just one of two options this month; we'll issue the second advocacy challenge the week of May 22, assuming President Trump does, indeed, release the full detail of his FY 2018 federal budget. In the mean time, on to rural!

This month’s advocacy challenge is focused on rural schools and communities, and highlights two specific programs that target and support rural districts. A third rural program—Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) is featured in a separate post, and is more of an update related to a new application process. You can access that on the blog 

Impact Aid:  

  • Background (Hat Tip: USED). Impact Aid is designed to assist United States local school districts that have lost property tax revenue due to the presence of tax-exempt Federal property, or that have experienced increased expenditures due to the enrollment of federally connected children, including children living on Indian lands. Many local school districts across the United States include within their boundaries parcels of land that are owned by the Federal Government or that have been removed from the local tax rolls by the Federal Government, including Indian lands. These school districts face special challenges — they must provide a quality education to the children living on the Indian and other Federal lands and meet the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act, while sometimes operating with less local revenue than is available to other school districts, because the Federal property is exempt from local property taxes.

    Since 1950, Congress has provided financial assistance to these local school districts through the Impact Aid Program. Impact Aid was designed to assist local school districts that have lost property tax revenue due to the presence of tax-exempt Federal property, or that have experienced increased expenditures due to the enrollment of federally connected children, including children living on Indian lands. The program provides assistance to local school districts with concentrations of children residing on Indian lands, military bases, low-rent housing properties, or other Federal properties and, to a lesser extent, concentrations of children who have parents in the uniformed services or employed on eligible Federal properties who do not live on Federal property.

    Over 93 percent of the $1.3 billion appropriated for FY 2016 is targeted for payment to school districts based on an annual count of federally connected school children. Slightly more than 5 percent assists school districts that have lost significant local assessed value due to the acquisition of property by the Federal Government since 1938. More than $17 million is available for formula construction grants.

    Impact Aid has been amended numerous times since its inception in 1950. The program continues, however, to support local school districts with concentrations of children who reside on Indian lands, military bases, low-rent housing properties, and other Federal properties, or have parents in the uniformed services or employed on eligible Federal properties. The law refers to local school districts as local educational agencies, or LEAs.

    AASA works in close coordination with the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS) on all things related to Impact Aid. Here’s a really good Impact Aid primer (Hat tip: NAFIS!) NAFIS also shared an excellent one-page document summarizing the critical nature of investing in Impact Aid, and how the funding works.

  • Talking Points: Right now, the focus is on ensuring adequate and continued investment in Impact Aid, particularly as it relates to FY18. 
    • Impact Aid funds are efficient, flexible, and locally controlled.
    • Impact Aid funds are appropriated annually by Congress. The US Department of Education disburses the funding directly to school districts.
    • School district leaders decide how Impact Aid funds are spent, including for instructional materials, staff, transportation, technology, facility needs, etc.
    • The final FY18 budget allocation must include robust investment in Impact Aid. AASA is opposed to program cuts in the program, including the proposal to eliminate funding for the support payments for federal property program (within Impact Aid).  

Secure Rural Schools:  

  • Background: The Secure Rural Schools program was intended as a safety net for forest communities in 41 states.  SRS payments are based on historic precedent and agreements removing federal lands from local tax bases and from full local community economic activity.  The expectation is that the federal government and Congress will develop a long term system based on sustainable active forest management. Congress needs to act on active long term forest management programs generating local jobs and revenues.  Congress funded SRS for 2014 and 2015, but has not funded SRS for 2016.  775 Counties and over 4,400 schools serving 9 million students in 41 states now directly face the grim financial reality of budget cuts and the loss of county road, fire and safety services, and reductions in education programs and services for students. The negative impact of lost SRS funds for counties and schools in Rocky Mountain states are compounded by reduced PILT payments.  All these funding cuts negatively affect everyone who lives in or visits forest counties. Congress must continue the historic national commitment to the 775 rural counties and 4,400 schools in rural communities and school districts served by the SRS program. Without immediate Congressional action on forest management and SRS, forest counties and schools face the loss of irreplaceable essential fire, police, road and bridge, community and educational services.
  • Talking Points: STAND UP, SPEAK OUT FOR SRS NOW: YOUR REPRESENATATIVES ARE IN THEIR DISTRICTS May 8-15 -- Contact your Member TO STAND UP, SPEAK OUT NOW FOR SRS. Tell what the loss of SRS funds means to schools, roads and other essential services in your community. Provide examples of cuts to education programs, road, bridge, police, fire, and safety programs. 
    • Ask your Member to STAND UP, SPEAK OUT FOR SRS NOW calling for immediate action on short term SRS and funding for Fiscal Years 2016-2017 to support essential safety, fire, police, road and bridge, community and education services, and 
    • ASK your House member to cosponsor H.R.2340 - To extend the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000. 
    • ASK your Senator to cosponsor S. 1027 - To extend the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000. 
    • ASK for action on legislation to actively manage and restore National Forest and BLM lands to promote economic development and stability.   

 

May 11, 2017(1)

(ESEA, RURAL EDUCATION, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

Update: Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) has application for FY 2017

It has come to our attention that we failed to clearly understand and communicate a new requirement for the Small Rural Schools Achievement Programs (SRSA), under the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP).

BACKGROUND: The REAP program was reauthorized as Title V of the Every Student Succeeds Act. It is compromised of two grant programs, the Rural and Low Income Schools (RLIS) program and the SRSA program. School districts receiving REAP money are in fact receiving either RLIS or SRSA funding.

When it comes to these programs, RLIS is money that goes to the state. Details on how a district can receive RLIS funds will be provided by their state. The SRSA program flows directly from USED to school districts, and there is a critical change for FY 2017: Beginning in FY 2017, local education agencies (LEAs) will need to apply each year to receive SRSA grant funds. The FY17 SRSA application window will be open from May 1 thru June 30, 2017. Applications received after the deadline will be processed only to the extent that funds remain available.  

  1. Steps for Applying: Obtain a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number (if your LEA does not already have one).
    • LEAs can obtain a DUNS number for free through the Dun & Bradstreet Website. After submitting a request, you should receive a DUNS number within 1-2 business days. 
     
  2. If your LEA has a DUNS number, verify that the number is active in the System for Award Management (SAM).
    • For additional information and to verify that your district’s DUNS number is active and registered in SAM, please contact SAM’s help desk toll-free at (866) 606-8220, (8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time)  
     
  3. Complete the SRSA application on Grants.gov. Instructions will be included with the application on Grants.gov.
    • NOTE: The application will become available when the application period opens in May. The application will become unavailable when the application period ends. 
     

 DUNS number registration and re-activation

  • An LEA must be registered in SAM and have a DUNS number that is active in Sam and G5 at the time of application to register in Grants.gov and apply for an SRSA grant.
  • An LEA’s DUNS number must also be active for the LEA to be able to draw down the funds.
  • If your LEA’s DUNS number is nearing the end of its “active” status, it is best to reactivate the DUNS in SAM at least 7-10 business days prior to expiration date to allow time for the validation process.
  • To determine if your LEA’s DUNS number is active and registered in SAM, please contact the SAM Federal Service Desk toll-free at (866) 606-8220, (EDT - 8:00a.m. to 8:00p.m.)
  • If your LEA does not have a DUNS number, you can submit a request for one on the Dun & Bradstreet website, www.dandb.com.

Why this change? The REAP SRSA program beneficiaries were routinely leaving $2 million unused. These funds went unclaimed, largely, because eligible schools did not know that they had money and/or they had not completed the process to obtain/verify their DUNS umber. For context, more than 1,600  SRSA grantees hadn’t received money they were eligible for. The new application procedure is aimed at addressing these shortcomings.  The application ensures appropriate and current contact information—which is critical in small rural districts who may experience above-average staff turnover/churn. One districts have their DUNS number, they will be able to receive their monies and draw down their funding.  USED has engaged in a series of webinars on the new application and process and will continue to hold these webinars—roughly two per week—throughout the duration of the application period. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION  

  • You can access the archived REAP webinars are the following URLs:  
  • Upcoming Webinars: To provide additional assistance, the REAP Team will begin hosting SRSA APPLICATION WALK-THROUGH WEB SEMINARS. During these seminars, a REAP program officer will walk participant LEAs through the SRSA Application while the LEAs complete the application in Grants.gov. The first walk-through web seminar for FY 2017 will take place on Wednesday, May 10, 2017, at 1 p.m. Eastern Time. We will host additional walk-through web seminars every Tuesday and Wednesday, beginning Tuesday, May 16, 2017, until Wednesday, June 28, 2017. Tuesday web seminars will be held from 4-5 p.m. Eastern Time, and Wednesday seminars will take place from 1-2  p.m. Eastern Time. You MUST register in grants.gov prior to the webinar.
  •  
  • To register for one of the dates listed below, click the corresponding hyperlink below. Participation is capped at 350 attendees per session, so be sure to register early!

May 11, 2017

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

Letter from USED Re: FY2017 Federal Formula Program Allocations

Earlier this week, USED sent the following note to chief state school officers, with updated information about FY2017 federal formula program allocations. The text of the letter is as follows:

Now that there is a fiscal year 2017 (school year (SY) 2017-2018) appropriation, I am writing to provide a brief update on allocations, as some of you have asked about them.  The appropriation sets the funding levels for programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESEA), as well as other programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education (ED).  Therefore, for formula programs administered by ED’s Office of State Support and other offices, ED can now finalize SY 2016-2017 allocations and issue SY 2017-2018 preliminary allocations. 

SY 2016-2017 (Title I, Part A and Title II, Part A) 

As we have discussed in prior communications with you, the FY 2017 continuing resolution that was in effect before the final FY 2017 appropriation became law included an across-the-board reduction in the amount of funds provided through the FY 2016 appropriations act that became available on October 1, 2016.  The reduction resulted in revised SY 2016-2017 Title I, Part A and Title II, Part A allocations that ED issued in October 2016 and reduced the amount of FY 2016 Title I, Part A and Title II, Part A funds that ED awarded to States at that time.  (The reductions had no effect on Title III, Part A or State Assessment Grant allocations because the FY 2016 appropriations act made all of the funds for these programs available on July 1, 2016.)   

Now that the FY 2017 appropriation has superseded the continuing resolution, the cut is no longer in effect.  We anticipate issuing second revised final SY 2016-2017 Title I, Part A and Title II, Part A allocations and supplemental grant awards very soon.  As in past years, to reflect the updated allocations, a State may either adjust the current Title I, Part A and Title II, Part A local educational agency (LEA) allocations for SY 2016-2017 or make the adjustment when the State determines SY 2017-2018 allocations to LEAs.  More information about adjustments will be provided in the allocation notification.    

SY 2017-2018 (Title I, Part A; Title II, Part A; Title III, Part A; and State Assessment Grants (Title I, Part B)) 

ED expects to provide preliminary SY 2017-2018 allocations for Title I, Part A; Title II, Part A; Title III, Part A; and State Assessment Grants before the end of May.  As in past years, updates to some data elements in the Title I, Part A formula (e.g., LEA finance data used in the Education Finance Incentive Grant formula) and Title II, Part A and State Assessment Grant formulas (i.e., State-level ages 5 to 17 population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau) are expected to become available in June.  Therefore, in the second half of June, ED plans to issue final allocations for these programs based on the updated data elements and will use the final allocations as the basis for the grant awards that ED will issue on July 1, 2017.  Regarding Title III, Part A, it is unlikely that there will be any changes between the preliminary SY 2017-2018 allocations and the final allocations. 

May 4, 2017(1)

(ESEA, IDEA, PERKINS, RURAL EDUCATION, SCHOOL NUTRITION, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

We're One Week into May, and there's a lot to share!

Lots of advocacy information to catch you up on: 

  • FY17 Budget: Congress agreed to a final spending bill for FY17, the federal dollars that will be in schools for the 17-18 school year. The bill is not good, but it is about as good as Congress can do given the current funding environment. AASA did not endorse the bill, given deep concerns we have with proposed cuts and inadequate funding to core programs, but we did not oppose the bill either, given that the bill was bipartisan and as good as Congress could do given the current funding caps (We can have an entirely separate conversation on how Congress alone can address the cap issue….they put the caps into place, they can resolve them.) But, for purposes for FY17, we were neutral on the bill, highlighting the good as well as the bad, and delivering a clear message that FY18 has to be better. The bill passed the House on May 3 and is being voted on in the Senate on May 4 (May the 4th be with you…..) Read the AASA letter
    • Quick Summary of Education impacts in FY17 omnibus
    • Provides $66.9 billion for USED (accounting for Pell rescission), a $1.1 b cut from FY16
    • ESSA
      • Title I increase of $550 million (includes $450 m from SIG consolidation and $100 m in new funding; will still leave school districts short $100 m for ESSA implementation)
      • Title II is cut by $294 m (13%)
      • Title IV is funded at $400 m, and states can choose to run it competitively
       
    • IDEA receives $90 m increase (Federal share just over 16%)
    • Impact Aid increase $23 m
    • 21st Century Community Learning Centers increase $25 m
    • Head Start increase $85 million
    • Includes reauthorization of DC voucher program
    • Does NOT include funding for Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program
  •  
  • ACHAThe House passed the bill to repeal/replace the Affordable Care Act on May 4. Here’s the latest call to action, which includes the priority members (those that are leaning no). While the bill passed the House, advocacy can sway that and we need to keep the pressure on for the Senate vote.  Details on the blog.
  • Perkins Career Tech: The House today introduced its bill to reauthorize the Carl Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. Called the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. The bill is sponsored by Rep Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL). Other sponsors include Byrne (R-AL) Clark (D-MA), Ferguson (R-GA), Langevin (D-RI), Nolan (D-MN), and Smucker (R-PA). You’ll recall that AASA endorsed the 2016 version of the bill (here’s a good run down of that bill).  Key changes in the 2017 version (H/T EdWeek):
    • States have to set performance targets based on the process in their state plans. 
    • The bill says that two accountability indicators in the bill, those for "nontraditional" students and for program quality, now only apply to CTE "concentrators" who have taken two sequential CTE courses of study. In general, the bill defines CTE concentrators as those students who have "completed three or more career and technical education courses, or completed at least two courses in [a] single career and technical education program or program of study."
    • Maintenance-of-effort language has been changed that would now allow states to decrease their CTE funding by 10 percent in the year immediately following implementation of the new Perkins law. 
    • The U.S. secretary of education now has 120 days to review the plans, not 90 as in last year's bill.  
  • School Nutrition: Earlier this week, US Dept of Agriculture announced a partial rollback of regulations on the Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act, including delaying or weakening restrictions on salt and requirements for whole grains. This is a set of regulatory relief AASA has long championed. Check out Leslie’s blog post.
  • Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act: SRS/Forest Counties was NOT included in the FY17 funding bill. Your advocacy is working though because there is now Senate language to reauthorize the program. Sens. Hatch and Wyden introduced a bill to reauthorize the program for two years. Other Senators supporting the legislation include Crapo, Cantwell, Risch, Heinrich, Daines, Manchin, Gardner, Feinstein, Murkowksi, Sullivan, Tester, and Bennet.  WE MUST KEEP THE PRESSSURE ON CONGRESS TO ACT. Here is our call to action AND a recent social media campaign. Here’s a bulleted list of what’s in the bill:
    • Reauthorizes SRS payments for 2 years—retroactively, to make counties whole for their FY2016 payments and FY2017 (payment goes out in 2018);
    • Clarifies the use of unelected title II funds;
    • Eliminates the merchantable timber pilot requirement (note:  this was never implemented by the Forest Service, and the Forest Service support its deletion);
    • Clarifies, through a technical fix, the availability of funds per section 207(d)(2);
    • Extends the time available to initiate title II projects and obligate funds for the 2-year reauthorization;
    • Title II and III Elections: For the 2-Year reauthorization, there won’t be enough time to go through the administrative process of the counties changing their elections and still getting their payments on time, so for reauthorization, the counties have to stick with their current elections.  
  • Executive Order on Federal Overreach (Regulations) in Education: President Trump signed an executive order (read it here) that directs USED and Secretary DeVOs to study “where the federal government has unlawfully overstepped on state and local control." Given the restrictions on federal authority in ESSA, the executive order has for the most part been perceived as more symbolic than substantive, at least on first impression.S.945 New HOPE Act (Cornyn – TX) Introduced April 26th, a bill to amend the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 

 

April 13, 2017

(ESEA, IDEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

AASA Appropriations Activity

Earlier this month, AASA joined other national organizations in a letter highlighting the importance of investment in IDEA (Read the letter). We also focused our April advocacy challenge on federal appropriations, and you can read those details on the blog

This week, AASA took further action: 

  • We joined 11 other national organizations to re-issue a letter we sent last year outlining our continued concerns related to ensuring that the final FY17 Title I allocation is high enough to avoid cuts at the local level. We reissued the letter to highlight the continued need as Congress comes back from recess and tackles their final FY17 discussions. Read the updated letter. Groups signing the letter include:
    • American Federation of Teachers 
    • Association of Educational Service Agencies 
    • Association of School Business Officials International 
    • Council of Great City Schools 
    • National Association of Elementary School Principals 
    • National Association of Secondary School Principals 
    • National Education Association 
    • National PTA 
    • National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium 
    • National Rural Education Association 
    • National School Boards Association 
  • AASA submitted a final FY17 budget priority letter, which also indicated initial FY18 priorities. Our letter prioritizes investment in ESSA Title I, IDEA, and Perkins Career/Technical Education; opposes proposed cuts/elimination for ESSA Title II and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers; and reiterates the importance of parity between defense and non defense discretionary funding.  
  •  

April 11, 2017

(ESEA) Permanent link

Guest Blog Post: Independently Reviewing State ESSA Plans

Today's guest blog post comes from our friends at Collaborative for Student Success

Since the Every Student Succeeds Act passed with bipartisan congressional support and was signed by President Obama, there has been much debate about how states will – and should – use this opportunity to make bold decisions in designing their new accountability systems, capitalizing on the freedom and flexibility the new law affords them.

As states submit their plans to the U.S. Department of Education, eyes across the country are on them, wondering which states following through on that promise, and how. That’s why the Collaborative for Student Success has teamed up with Bellwether Education Partners to spearhead an independent peer review of state ESSA plans. This effort will look beyond compliance, and focus in on whether a state plan has a strong likelihood of success. It will provide states, districts, parents, teachers and advocates with an additional level of feedback and guidance. 

We are proud to have assembled a list of phenomenal experts, who will use their depth of experience to help each state design the best plan possible. Our peer reviewers boast diversity, partisan balance, and state and national expertise. We have also recruited content specialists to ensure additional attention to the needs of students with disabilities and English Language Learners.

Here’s how it works: Our findings will go to states first. This isn’t an attempt to shame anyone. We welcome changes on the basis of the guidance our peers provide. We will inform national and state partners soon thereafter. We plan to publicly release a summary analysis of the strengths and weaknesses our peers have found across state plans in June, and plan to share these findings as “Lessons Learned” to help guide future state plans for states submitting in September.

Now is the time for states to lead, with a special consideration towards opinions from district leaders who understand how policies work on the school level. Now is the time for states to prove that the confines of federal dictation hamstrung them and, left to their own accord, they would do what is in the best interests of their students.

But, the reality of the situation is that children have waited far too long for the education system they deserve nationwide – in every classroom, school, district and state. In past years, many relied on the federal peer review process to help ensure state plans were moving in the right direction, but with a new administration staffing up and with states exploring the new power they have been gifted at the same time, mere compliance with the law is not enough to ensure real change and improvement.

How can you help? We’re sharing this information so that you are aware of this effort and will expect the forthcoming analysis. We encourage you to share this information with colleagues and policymakers in your state. We hope you use it to help advocate for the changes that will strengthen your state plan and help ensure meaningful accountability. 

Click here to find more information on our independent peer review. 

 

March 22, 2017

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS, SCHOOL CHOICE AND VOUCHERS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

Sen. Patty Murray Releases School Privatization Caucus Memo

In light of President Trump’s FY18 budget request that commits to diverting public funds from public education programs for school privatization, Senator Murray and the HELP Committee Minority staff penned a memo outlining  the repercussions of school privatization efforts across the country. The memo is being distributed to the caucus and widely among practitioners. 

The memo includes feedback on privatization from five public school superintendents.

March 21, 2017

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS) Permanent link

AASA Joins Ten National Organizations in Letter to CCSSO Expressing Support for Stakeholder Engagement in ESSA

11 national organizations sent a joint letter to the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) expressing their continued strong support for stakeholder engagement, their concern with USED’s removal of stakeholder engagement elements from the ESSA template plans, and their ask that CCSSO commit to monitoring members to ensure they uphold the law’s requirement for meaningful consultation with stakeholders. 

AASA was proud to sign the letter, and was joined by: 

 

  • American Federation of Teachers 
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals 
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals 
  • National Center for Learning Disabilities 
  • National Conference of State Legislatures 
  • National Education Association 
  • National Governors Association 
  • National Parent Teacher Association 
  • National School Boards Association and
  • National Association of School Psychologists

 

March 16, 2017

(ESEA, IDEA, RURAL EDUCATION, WELL-BEING, SCHOOL CHOICE AND VOUCHERS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

AASA Executive Director Responds to President Trump's FY18 Budget Proposal

Earlier today, President Trump released details for his FY18 budget proposal. It is a 'skinny budget', in that it only covers discretionary funding, and within that, doesn't fully list the impact on all discretionary programs.The proposal cuts funding to the US Education Department by $9 billion (13 percent). It provides a $1 billion increase for Title I, but the increase is for states and districts to use for portability and choice. This is in addition to a new $250 million school choice/voucher program and a $168 million increase for charters, bringing the total amount of NEW funding in the President's budget for choice to $1.4 billion. The budget level funds IDEA, eliminates ESSA Title II Part A and eliminates the 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

In response to this budget proposal, AASA Executive Director Daniel A. Domenech released the following statement:

“AASA is deeply concerned that the first budget proposal from the new administration doesn’t prioritize investment in the key federal programs that support our nation’s public schools, which educate more than 90% of our nation’s students. While we would normally applaud a proposal that increases funding for Title I by $1 billion, we cannot support a proposal that prioritizes privatization and steers critical federal funding into policies and programs that are ineffective and flawed education policy. The research on vouchers and portability has consistently demonstrated that they do not improve educational opportunity and leave many students, including low-income students, student with disabilities, and students in rural communities-underserved. AASA remains opposed to vouchers and will work with the administration and Congress to ensure that all entities receiving federal dollars for education faces the same transparency, reporting and accountability requirements.  

“AASA is disappointed at the significant cuts proposed to critical education programs, including the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Title II. FY 18 dollars will be used by schools across the nation in just the second year of ESSA implementation, and the idea that this administration thinks that schools can do this work—and the administration claim they support this work—without supporting teachers and teacher leaders, and their professional development, is a deeply disconcerting position. 

“As recently as yesterday Secretary DeVos indicated an interest in supporting state and local education agencies, and “to returning power to the states whenever and wherever possible." AASA is concerned that while the department indicates they want to return power, the proposed funding levels—including continued level funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and cuts to core programs in ESSA—deeply undercut state and local efforts in these areas and expand the reality of federal requirements without commensurate support, further encroaching on state and local dollars. The return of power, however well intended, when systematically and deliberately paired with low funding, translates into unfunded federal requirements. 

“AASA remains committed to parity between defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) dollars, and we are deeply opposed to the proposed $54 billion increase in defense discretionary spending being offset by NDD spending cuts. AASA supports robust investment in our nation’s schools and the students they serve, and we support increased investment for both defense and NDD funding by lifting the budget caps, as set forth in the Budget Control Act of 2011, for both. NDD programs are the backbone of critical functions of government and this proposed cut will impact myriad policy areas—including medical and scientific research, job training, infrastructure, public safety and law enforcement, public health and education, among others—and programs that support our children and students. 

“Increased investment in education—particularly in formula programs—is a critical step to improving education for all students and bolstering student learning, school performance and college and career readiness among our high school graduates.  AASA remains hopeful that our President, who has consistently articulated an interest in growing our economy, growing jobs, and keeping this nation moving forward, will recognize the unparalleled role that education plays in each of these goals and work to improve his FY18 budget to increase investment in the key federal K12 programs that bolster and improve our nation’s public schools, the students they serve and the education to which they aspire.”

 

 

 

February 14, 2017

(ESEA, RURAL EDUCATION, E-RATE, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, This is a Catch-All Education Update, JUST FOR YOU!

Secretary's Statement and Letter to Chiefs re: ESSA Implementation: Last week, Secretary DeVos issued a letter to all Chief State School Officers relating to Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) implementation in light of the postponement of the accountability regulations and the Congressional Review Act.  Read the letter.

AASA National Conference on Education: We will be in New Orleans March 2-4. Sign up today! Specific to advocacy, here are the policy sessions where you can find Sasha, Leslie, Deanna and I:

 

  • Special Education 2.0: Breaking Taboos to Build a New Education Law (3/2, 9 am)
  • AASA Advocacy meet & Greet (3/2, 9 am)
  • State Policy 2017: What to Expect, What to Plan For (3/2, 2 pm)
  • Federal Education Policy in a Post-ESSA Era (3/3, 10:45 am)
  • The Third Branch: Supreme Court and Schools (3/3, 12:30 pm)
  • Schools in Transition: Gender Diversity and Best Practices (3/3, 3:45 pm)
  • Federal Relations Luncheon: Public School Choice vs. Private School Vouchers(3/2, 12:30 pm)

Of Funding: There is no real update. The current continuing resolution (for FY17, the dollars that will be in your schools for the 17-18 school year) runs through April 28. Staff are split among the various options for how Congress will wrap the FY17 discussion, which will in part be shaped by a time crunch for floor time, as Congress works through the Congressional Review Act, confirmations, normal order AND starts FY18 negotiations.

Rural Education Caucus: Your member of Congress may not be on an education committee, but there is always a way to be involved. Is your Congressional district rural? Does your state have rural? Then an easy ask is for your members of Congress to join their respective chambers' Rural Education Caucus. When you make the outreach, ask them to contact Rep. Sam Graves' office on the House side or Sen Tester on the Senate side to sign up!

 

February 7, 2017

(ESEA, E-RATE, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

AASA Signs Statement Expressing Deep Concern Over Recent FCC Actions

Earlier today, AASA joined 16 other national organizations in a joint statement in response to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's recent decisions affecting the Universal Service Lifeline and E-Rate programs:

You can read the full statement here. It is also excerpted below:

The Education and Libraries Networks Coalition (EdLiNC) is extremely disappointed by FCC Chairman Pai's unilateral decision to revoke the designation of several telecommunications companies as Lifeline broadband providers. This decision will significantly hamper efforts to help close the homework gap for thousands of low-income and rural students, preventing them from gaining access to online resources, to college and employment applications, and to their teachers and peers. We cannot understand the need to block the roll-out of the Lifeline broadband program now and urge the Chairman to reconsider this action.

EdLiNC is also deeply concerned by Chairman Pai's decision to rescind the recently published E-Rate progress report, which does nothing more than demonstrate the progress that the program has made in delivering robust Wi-Fi to classrooms and libraries and providing fiber broadband connection opportunities to their buildings. E-Rate has done more to connect America's public and private schools and public libraries in the past 20 years than any other state or federal program and EdLiNC remains steadfast in our commitment to ensuring the strength and viability of this program. We urge the Chairman to reconsider this action. EdLiNC looks forward to working with the FCC and Chairman Pai to ensure that the E-Rate program helps meet the needs of our schools and libraries and protects the continued distribution of E-Rate discounts in an equitable way. 

Groups signing the statement include:

  • AASA, The School Superintendents Association
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • American Library Association
  • Association of School Business Officials, International
  • Association of Educational Service Agencies
  • Consortium for School Networking
  • International Society for Technology in Education
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals
  • National Association of Independent Schools
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals
  • National Catholic Educational Association
  • National Education Association
  • National PTA
  • National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium
  • National Rural Education Association
  • National School Boards Association
  • United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

February 1, 2017

(ESEA, RURAL EDUCATION, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

Webinar: Changes to REAP Program in 2017 & 2018

Join USED's Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) team for REAP: Changes to the Program in FY 2017 & 2018 Webinar, being held February 14 and February 16.

This webinar will provide an overview of changes to program eligibility and processes as a result of the Every Student Succeeds Act and explain what state education agencies can expect in FY 2017, 2018 and beyond.

Respond by clicking one of the dates below to send a notification to REAP@ED.gov. 

The day before each webinar, you will receive a meeting invitation with a link to access the webinar.

 

 

January 10, 2017

(ESEA, IDEA, PERKINS, RURAL EDUCATION, SCHOOL NUTRITION, ADVOCACY TOOLS, SCHOOL CHOICE AND VOUCHERS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

AASA Releases Transition Memo

As the new year, new Congress, and new administration get under way, AASA shares its transition memo, identifying areas where the Trump administration could take steps that work to strengthen and support the nation's public schools.

The text of the transition memo is below, or you can read the PDF version.

Please direct any questions to the AASA advocacy team (Noelle Ellerson Ng, Sasha Pudelski, or Leslie Finnan).

 

Dear President-Elect Trump,

As you begin to think more deeply about your policies and priorities for improving the education of students in the United States, AASA, The School Superintendents Association stands ready to work with you and your Secretaries to ensure the 13,000 school districts we represent and the children they educate are well-served by your Administration. Throughout our more than 150 years, AASA has advocated for the highest quality public education for all students, and provided programing to develop and support school system leaders. AASA members advance the goals of public education and champion children’s causes in their districts and nationwide. 

Given that less than 10 percent of our budgets are derived from federal dollars, we strongly support increased local control over education decisions. We championed the recently enacted Every Student Succeeds Act for many specific reasons, but most generally for taking the pendulum of federal overreach and prescription rampant under No Child Left Behind and swinging it firmly back to state and local control. AASA believes there is a critical role for the federal government in improving K-12 education, but that role is meant to strengthen and support our public schools, not dictate to them. We write to delineate the policy areas in which we believe the Trump Administration can do just that: support and strengthen our public schools. The following outlines our sincere suggestions for areas where we think your administration’s leadership is most important.

Provide states and school districts with flexibility to implement ESSA

State and local education agencies are deeply involved in efforts to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). As regulations, guidance and technical assistance designed to support implementation have been released by the Obama administration, certain proposals have run counter to the spirit and intent of the underlying statute and act to undermine the state and local flexibility intended by law makers. One of the best examples of this is within the proposed regulations for the law’s Title I ‘Supplement, Not Supplant’ (SNS) provisions. Title I was designed to be a flexible program, giving school districts and schools latitude to spend Title I funds on a broad array of educational services as long as they are consistent with the program’s purposes. The SNS rule as it is currently drafted substantially limits how school districts and schools may allocate resources, restricting and even undermining the ways in which Title I can support at-risk students. The proposal glosses over the realities of school finance, the reality of how and when funds are allocated, the extent to which districts do or do not have complete flexibility, the patterns of teacher sorting and hiring, and the likelihood that many students would experience the rule, as drafted, in a way that undermines intentional, evidence-based efforts aimed at increasing education equity. The proposal will restrict—rather than support—the ways in which state and local resources can be used to most effectively and equitably support at-risk students.

What you can do: We believe that a simple path the administration could follow in supporting state and local flexibility is to default to the underlying statute (which includes a test auditors could use) and refrain from additional unnecessary prescription. 

Reduce the administrative burden on districts

Increases each year in the amount of data requested by the Obama Administration has become the norm for school leaders. This surge in data collection has been particularly difficult for small, rural school districts to meet. The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has been particularly to blame for the uptick in data collection through changes made to the Civil Rights Data Collection. In its last iteration for the 2015-2016 school year, the Department increased data collection by 17 percent.  Prior to the Obama Administration, the data was not required to be collected by all districts. In particular, smaller districts were exempt from participating in the collection every two years given the enormous burden it imposed. The Obama Administration chose to remove this exemption and require every district to submit data regardless of the size of district or burden this imposed.  

What you can do: We believe a simple and meaningful change your administration could make is to reduce the data points collected by the Civil Rights Data Collection to the most critical items necessary for monitoring compliance with the Title IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act. Further, the Department could return to the practice of the Bush Administration and revert to the traditional sampling procedures (stratification, estimation, etc.) that were used previously to survey districts for compliance. Further, require an internal audit of all data that is collected by the U.S. Department of Education in every division of the Department and ensure this data is legislatively mandated, non-duplicative and utilized in a manner that could benefit K12 students. Specifically, request that Department personnel whether any current data collection is focused on answering the question ‘Should we be collecting this data?’

Undo financially destructive regulations and absolve unfunded mandates

Since its inception in 1975, IDEA has protected students with disabilities by ensuring access to a free appropriate public education.  At the time the statute was enacted, Congress promised to pay 40 percent of the National Average per Pupil Expenditure. While special education funding has received significant increases over the past 15 years, including a one-time infusion of funds included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, federal funding has leveled off recently and has even been cut. The closest the federal government has come to reaching its 40 percent commitment through annual appropriations was 18 percent in 2005. The chronic underfunding of IDEA by the federal government places an additional funding burden on states and local school districts to pay for needed services.  This often means using local budget dollars to cover the federal shortfall, shortchanging other school programs that students with disabilities often also benefit from. 

To exacerbate special education funding shortfalls, on December 12, 2016, the Obama Administration issued a new IDEA regulation that would have profound financial implications for districts. This regulation attempts to re-write the statute of IDEA pertaining to findings of significant racial and ethnic disproportionality in special education. While AASA believes this aspect of the statute is critically important, we think that the Administration has misinterpreted what the statute says and allows the Department of Education to amend it in ways that are not legally sound. In particular, USED will require states to impose a specific methodology to determine what districts have significant racial and ethnic disproportionality. If the Department’s estimate is to be believed, between 300 and 500 million dollars allocated to districts to provide direct services to students with disabilities would have to be utilized differently. 

What you can do: In your first budget as President, address this unfunded mandate and pledge to work with Congress and OMB to create a path towards fully funding IDEA. If that can’t be accomplished, support changes to IDEA that would allow districts flexibility in reducing their local investment in special education if they can find more efficient ways of serving students with disabilities. Given the underfunding of IDEA discussed above, we ask that you rescind the regulation immediately and urge Congress to take up the reauthorization of IDEA to address significant racial and ethnic disproportionality in special education. 

Support rural school leaders and students

Rural school districts were not well-served by the Obama Administration. The dissemination of hundreds of millions of dollars through competitive programs like Race-To-The-Top and the Investing in Innovation led to few rural districts receiving any assistance during a significant economic downturn. Furthermore, the increased administrative burden documented below, exacerbated by cuts in federal funding proved to be a double hit for rural school districts. While the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) was preserved under the Obama Administration they did propose setting aside an unspecified amount of REAP dollars to provide competitive grants to innovative rural districts. The REAP program is a critical formula funding source for rural communities because it levels the playing field for small and high-poverty rural districts. 

What you can do: Support federal policy that flexibly supports the unique needs of rural communities, including REAP, Impact Aid, and Forest Counties, among others. REAP, in particular, helps districts overcome the additional costs associated with their geographic isolation, smaller number of students, higher transportation and employee benefit costs, and increased poverty. Funding REAP helps offset the impact of formula cuts and competitive dollars for small rural districts. Oppose attempts to distribute federal funding through competition, which inherently disadvantages rural districts who lack the resources and personnel to compete for funding. Create an Office of Rural Education Policy within the Department of Education to ensure that rural schools and communities are appropriately supported by the Department and considered in any discussion of new or existing education policies.

Ensure Higher Education regulations don’t burden local school districts 

On October 12, 2016, the Department of Education released final regulations regarding the evaluation of teacher preparation programs. These regulations require principals and school administrators to complete surveys and track and disseminate student outcomes for teachers in their schools who have graduated from a state teacher preparation program within the last three years. Besides adding an unprecedented and unfunded new burden to LEAs in the guise of improving teacher preparation programs regulated by the Higher Education Act this creates an unhealthy incentive to send graduating teachers to schools where students will do the best and may only exacerbate the current teacher shortage prevalent across the U.S. It could also create problems with the privacy and use of student data and new demands for data sharing across K12 and higher education institutions that are not technically realistic in some states.

What you can do: Reverse these regulations, and support a reauthorized Higher Education Act that does not place unnecessary burdens on the K-12 school system.

Avoid unnecessary environmental regulations

The Obama administration has made efforts to regulate school building materials, despite evidence that such regulations would not provide great enough benefit to justify the cost burden. Specifically, a rule will likely be proposed to require school and day care facilities to remove any florescent light ballast containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), flame retardant chemicals used until they were banned in 1979. Few schools still contain light ballasts with these chemicals, and most of those that do have already scheduled their removal.

What you can do: Do not continue with this or other similar regulations. Please be sure to consult with AASA and other similar groups before imposing regulations that would cause great cost burdens on already struggling school systems. 

Rebuild America’s schools

A strong K-12 public school infrastructure is essential if we hope to be globally competitive. Teachers cannot teach and students cannot be expected to learn in school facilities that are physically unsafe, or that lack functioning bathrooms or appropriate heating and cooling systems. Unfortunately, this is the state of too many of our school buildings across the U.S. According to the 2016 State of Our Schools Report, from FY1994-FY2013, school districts and states spent an average annually of $46 billion on utilities, operations, maintenance, and repair from their operating budgets; an average of $12 billion  per year on interest on long term debt—mostly for school construction bonds; and about $50 billion per year for capital construction from their capital budgets for new construction, facilities alterations, system and component renewals, and reducing the accumulation of deferred maintenance. The National Council on School facilities estimates that the nation's districts need to spend about $77 billion annually to modernize school buildings. 

What you can do: Ensure your infrastructure plan addresses the infrastructure needs of school districts. 

Align the K12 education system with skills demanded in workplaces

Last Congress, the House passed legislation to modernize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The Senate was unable to act last fall despite a vote of 405-5 in the House to pass the bill.  The federal government’s most significant K-12 investment is in career and technical education. Yet, in some places there remains a disconnect between the education students receive in high school and their employment options. We must address this gap by passing a comprehensive reauthorization of the Perkins CTE Act that will strengthen the bonds between business/industry and K12 districts and higher education institutions. School leaders must have data that informs them about what major employers are moving in/out of states and how our high schools can help them meet their workforce needs. We also need to invest more in CTE at the federal level. Under the Obama Administration, Perkins CTE funding fell by 13%. 

What you can do: Recommend greater funding for Carl D Perkins CTE to ensure school districts have the equipment, curriculum and appropriate personnel to offer the courses students need. Urge both chambers to work together to pass a bipartisan CTE reauthorization bill that continues the trend of reducing the federal footprint in K12 education policy.

Support and strengthen school lunch and breakfast programs 

The National School Lunch Act was first implemented in 1946 to ensure students had access to at least one healthy meal per day. It was designed as a fully federally funded program. The 2010 Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act ushered in a dramatic change in how school food services are provided. The strict meal standards have posed a financial and practical burden on many districts throughout the country. The new legislation offered a 6¢ per meal increase, though estimates have shown that the new standards increased costs by 35¢ per meal. While AASA would not support a full repeal of these standards, as much great work has been done to improve the provision of healthy meals, we do support tweaking the most problematic standards to provide relief to those districts having the most trouble meeting the new standards.

What you can do: Support legislation that provides common-sense changes to the nutrition standards, so schools can focus on feeding their students.  Support legislation that increases the federal investment in school lunch and breakfast programs. 

Support public education

While it’s clear that your Administration would like to prioritize expanding private school vouchers, in any and all forms, to students we urge you to consider the practical and financial implications of redirecting current federal K12 funding away from the public school system that must serve all students. There are currently 50.4 million students that attend public elementary and secondary schools in the United States. Even if vouchers were adopted widely as you propose, public education would remain our primary system; in states with voucher systems, most students would continue to attend public schools. Moreover, voucher programs are an ineffective and damaging education policy. Study after study has shown that private school vouchers do not improve student achievement or provide greater opportunities for the low-income students they purport to serve. Private voucher schools do not provide the same rights and protections to students as public schools, such as those in Titles VI and IX of the Civil Rights Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Every Student Succeeds Act. Private school voucher programs do not offer real choice as most state-voucher systems allow private schools to reject students with vouchers for a variety of reasons, ranging from disability, disciplinary history, English proficiency to ability to pay. Private school vouchers also do not save taxpayer money. In voucher programs, the public schools from which students leave for private voucher schools are spread throughout a school district. The reduction in students from each public school, therefore, is usually negligible and does not decrease operating costs of those public schools. That is one of the reasons why some voucher programs have resulted in multi-million dollar deficits and tax increases. To the extent that non-public schools would have access to federal dollars, all entities receiving public dollars must face the same transparency, reporting and accountability requirements.

As President it is incumbent that you ensure all students have access to quality public schools and that in a broader conversation of school choice, the focus is on ensuring that the nation’s public schools remain a high-quality and viable option for all families. 

What you can do: Ensure that the U.S. Department of Education promotes effective education policies and programs designed to strengthen and support our nation’s public schools and directs resources to local school districts to improve the education of the 50.4 million students that attend public elementary and secondary schools.

In closing, we look forward to working with you and your administration to provide all our nation’s students with  excellent public education opportunities and welcome the opportunity to meet to discuss these priorities further. 

January 9, 2017

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS) Permanent link

UPDATED: USED Announces ESSA Guidance and Webinar Series

UPDATED: USED is cancelling Jan 25 webinar and rescheduling for the following week. The adjusted schedule and topics are reflected below.

USED released a series of resources to support States in their transition to the ESSA. The Consolidated State Plan guidance, State and Local Report Cards guidance, and High School Graduation Rate guidance provide additional clarity on the role of States, districts, and schools under the ESSA to ensure that all students receive a high-quality education and that they graduate high school prepared for success in college and career.

The department also announced that it will host a weekly webinar series  (Wednesdays from 2-3:30 EST) beginning on January 11, 2017:

Please note that the schedule is subject to change. The Department will provide a detailed agenda prior to each session. Note that you must register for each webinar.
  • January 11, 2017
    Title I, Part A Assessment Notice of Final Regulations
    Register here.
  • January 18, 2017
    Consolidated State Plan: Consultation, Performance Management, and Assessment Requirements
    Register here.
  • January 25, 2017 NOW FEB 1
    Consolidated State Plan: Supporting Excellent Educators and All Students
    Register here.
  • February 1, 2017 NOW FEB 8
    Consolidated State Plan: Accountability Systems: Long-term Goals and Indicators
    Register here.
  • February 8, 2017 NOW FEB 15
    Consolidated State Plan: Accountability Systems: Annual Meaningful Differentiation and School Identification
    Register here.
  • February 15, 2017 NOW MAR 1
    Consolidated State Plan: School Improvement and Support
    Register here.
  • February 22, 2017
    No webinar
  • March 1, 2017 NOW MARCH 8
    Consolidated State Plan: Program-specific requirements
    Register here.
  • March 8, 2017 NOW MAR 15
    State plan submission
    Register here.
 
 

November 28, 2016(1)

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS) Permanent link

AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech Statement on ESSA Accountability Regulations

AASA Executive Director Daniel A. Domenech released the following statement in response to the U.S. Education Department releasing its final rule on the accountability provisions within the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): 

"Today’s final rule on the accountability provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act is a solid improvement over the initial proposal and brings the regulations much more in line with the intent and spirit of the underlying statute. It is clear the Department of Education listened carefully to the overwhelming feedback they received in response to the proposed rule and revised their first draft to more closely reflect the insight, expertise and feedback of education practitioners—including public school superintendents—across the nation. As we move forward with ESSA implementation and into the new year and new Congress, AASA remains committed to working with Congress and the new administration to make sure additional ESSA implementation resources are equally committed to state and local leadership and flexibility, as well as broader education policies prioritizing the strengthening and support of our nation’s public schools.”

You can read further analysis on the regulation on the AASA policy blog.

November 28, 2016

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

Post-Turkey Education Update: Sec of Ed, ESSA Regs, and Funding

Nothing says ‘Welcome back from the long holiday weekend!’ like the information in this blog post. Depending on your perspective, we could be thankful the final ESSA regulations weren’t dropped before the long weekend, or we could wallow in a write up that makes an already long Monday feel all the more ‘Monday’. But I digress.

Three things to flag for you from an advocacy update perspective: 

  • ESSA Regulations: Today, USED released its final regulations on ESSA accountability. We are still combing through the 300 page document. Here are some quick takeaways: Press Release, Summary, School Improvement Timelines, and the full text of the final regulations.
  • All three of our biggest concerns were addressed: the proposed requirement for a single summative indicator, the timeline for identification and the transportation of foster children provision.
    • The final regulation rescinds the initial proposed requirement of a single summative indicator. States can use the ratings in ESSA (including comprehensive improvement and targeted support) as their summative ratings, without being required to have a single, overall number or letter grade.
    • The proposed regulations required states to ID schools in need of improvement at the start of the 2017-18 school year. That has been delayed one year; the final regulation requires the identification for the 2018-19 school year. The timeline for accountability workbook submission has also changed. States will still have two options, but they are now April3 and September 18, 2017 (as opposed to the originally proposed March and July timelines).
    • The final regulations remove the language that requires LEAs to provide transportation to children in foster care if the LEA and child welfare agency do not agree on who will pay the additional costs associated with providing this transportation. This important change brings the final regulation into much closer alignment with the underlying statute. 
    • As a refresher, you can read AASA’s full set of formal comments to the proposed accountability regulations.
  • Secretary of Education: President Elect Donald Trump has selected his education secretary, and will nominate Betsy DeVos. There’s not much for us to say that you probably didn’t piece together from extensive media coverage over the weekend. Here are a few sample pieces:
  • AASA is neutral on the nomination. As a non-partisan professional association, we are committed to working with the Secretary of Education, the President and Congress regardless of their political affiliation. We will watch closely to ensure that the Secretary uses her position and opportunity for leadership to move policy that strengthens the nation’s public schools and we will remain diligent on key AASA policies, which include opposition to vouchers, ensuring that all entities receiving public dollars (including charter schools) are subject to the same accountability, transparency and reporting requirements, and that equity is at the center of all policy decisions.
  • Continuing Resolution: The current CR runs through December 9, meaning Congress has just over a week to adopt another fiscal policy to avoid a federal shutdown. At this point, they are working toward another short term continuing regulation, set to run through March 31. Republican leaders may try to wrap up the entire lame duck session by December 8, and have everyone out of town. 
 

November 2, 2016

(ESEA, E-RATE, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED TECH, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS) Permanent link

School Technology Makes Progress, Yet Challenges Remain—AASA & CoSN’s 2016 Infrastructure Survey

School systems in the United States are making progress in increasing broadband connectivity and Wi-Fi in classrooms. However, significant hurdles remain before all students are able to experience a digitally-enabled learning environment. These are the findings revealed today in CoSN’s 2016 Annual E-rate and Infrastructure Survey, a report conducted in partnership with AASA, The School Superintendents Association, and MDR.

Gathering insights from K-12 school administrators and technology directors nationwide, the report addresses key areas of concern for school districts, including affordability, network speed and capacity, reliability and competition, digital equity, security and cloud-based services. 

“The good news is districts are making real progress in supporting modern technology infrastructure. However, it remains clear that more work and investment are needed over the long run to address the digital equity challenge of today and provide robust broadband connectivity for all students in and outside of school,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN. 

Progress: School systems have progressed toward meeting the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) short-term goal of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students. Today 68 percent of the school districts fully meet the minimum Internet bandwidth recommendations in every one of their schools (it climbs to 80 percent of districts having three-fourths of their schools at this immediate connectivity goal). The 68 percent fully achieving the goal today is up from just 19 percent in 2013. 

The survey also shows increased reliability in Wi-Fi, which is now largely ubiquitous in high schools – only 6 percent lack Wi-Fi. In 2016, 81 percent of survey respondents indicated that they were very confident or somewhat confident in their Wi-Fi, a significant improvement over previous years.

Remaining Challenges: Despite this progress, school leaders also reported that affordability remains the biggest barrier to establishing strong connectivity in schools and that digital equity is a major priority. 

School districts are also largely not meeting the FCC’s long-term goal of 1 Gbps per 1,000 students. Only 15 percent of school districts report having 100 percent of schools reaching this goal, and that is consistent across urban, rural and suburban districts. School system leaders are divided about whether the long-term goal is too ambitious or about right.

School leaders project significant Internet bandwidth growth (100 to 500-plus percent increase) over the next 18 months, especially in urban (37 percent) and suburban (31 percent) districts. School leaders also project that nearly two-thirds of all students will use two or more devices at school within the next three years—an increase from 21 percent of students today. 

“The 2016 E-Rate and Infrastructure Survey demonstrates that we are making progress in bringing broadband infrastructure to our schools and in meeting our short-term bandwidth connectivity goals. This is welcome news,” said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. “At the same time, however, the survey shows that challenges remain. In particular, we must continue to raise awareness and come up with strategies to overcome the ‘Homework Gap,’ which is the cruelest part of our new digital divide. Thanks to CoSN, AASA, and MDR for this year’s survey, which continues to shine a spotlight on the state of infrastructure necessary to support digital learning across the country.”

“The findings of this year’s infrastructure report highlight the important work of the ongoing effort to expand school connectivity and the opportunity to use this expanded connectivity in schools to support student learning as schools transition to implementation of the reauthorized Every Student Succeeds Act. The findings of this survey—both where progress has been made and where there is continued room for growth—are in strong parallel to the underlying improvements of ESSA and the responsibility state and local education agencies will play in leveraging expanded decision-making authority into meaningful learning opportunities for their students. Also, for addressing equitable educational opportunities, including those tied directly to connectivity, including equitable access both in and outside of school,” said Daniel A. Domenech, who serves as Executive Director for AASA, The School Superintendents Association, and a member of the Universal Service Administrative Company Board of Directors.

Further details as well as additional challenges and priorities identified by school system leaders follow:  
  • Affordability
    • Recurring Expenses a High Hurdle. This year, 57 percent of school leaders identified the cost of ongoing recurring expenses as the biggest barrier to robust connectivity—up from 46 percent last year. 
    • Monthly Costs Going Down. The cost for monthly Internet connection showed significant improvement, with nearly one-half of respondents reporting low monthly costs (less than $5 per Mbps). This is a steady improvement from 36 percent in 2015 and 27 percent in 2014.
  • Lack of Competition
    • Lack of Competition Magnified Rurally. More than half (54 percent) of rural district leaders reported that only one provider sells Internet to their school system, and 40 percent of rural respondents reported receiving one or fewer qualified proposals for broadband services in 2016. This marks no progress from last year. 
  • Digital Equity
    • Digital Equity Atop the List. Among the school leaders surveyed, 42 percent ranked addressing digital equity / lack of broadband access outside of school as a “very high priority.” 
    • Strategies Needed. Nearly two-thirds of school system leaders, however, revealed that they do not have any strategies for providing off-campus connectivity to students. This is only a slight improvement over previous years.
  • Security
    • Small Investment in Security. Nearly half of school system leaders spend less than 4 percent of their entire technology budget on security. 
    • Phishing Top Security Concern. The largest security concern for school leaders is phishing (with 19 percent citing it as a high risk), with denial of service and ransomware rated equally as threats (9 percent).  
  • Cloud-Based Services
    • Server Migration Increasing. Approximately 40 percent of school districts are considering migrating their server infrastructure to the cloud. 
    • Learning Management Systems Tops Cloud Deployment. Nearly 60 percent of school system leaders stated that learning management systems make up the largest cloud deployment, followed by student information systems. 

Conducted in August 2016, the 2016 Annual E-rate and Infrastructure Survey collected 567 responses from district administrators and technology leaders serving urban, suburban and rural school system in 48 states and the District of Columbia. 

“MDR is excited to once again partner with an organization committed to identifying and solving the challenges associated with technology and education,” said Kristina James, MDR Director of Marketing. “Current MDR research shows that 75 percent of districts rated wireless networks as their top technology priority, the sixth year in a row that wireless networks have topped their priority list, reflecting the shift to digital and districts’ interest in being able to personalize learning for all students. This year’s CoSN survey illustrates the same desire, while highlighting the barriers districts need to overcome, to continue making progress towards this shift.”

To read the full report, please visit: www.cosn.org/infrastructure2016  

October 31, 2016

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS) Permanent link

49 Superintendent State Associations Submit Joint Response to USED "Supplement, Not Supplant" Regulations

Earlier today, 49 superintendent state associations submitted a joint letter in response to USED's proposed regulations on "Supplement, Not Supplant" (SNS) within Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). (The state of Hawaii does not have a superintendent state association.)

The signatories represent a nation-wide response to the proposal and a unified voice in expressing specific concerns with USED's proposal. The letter was submitted in an effort to inform USED's work in the hope that the final rule will be revised and improved. In signing the letter, each state association Executive Director wrote,:

"...We write to express our deep concern with the U.S. Department of Education’s (USED) proposed regulations related to the ‘Supplement, not Supplant’ (SNS) provisions of Title I in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The regulations represent new, far-reaching federal mandates dictating how local school districts spend their state and local funds and are in conflict with the spirit and intent of the underlying statute, which is premised on state and local control. 

"ESSA’s reform of SNS should not be an opportunity for USED to exert unprecedented influence over the more than 90 percent of K-12 funding generated by state and local districts. It must be an opportunity for the flexible, but high expectations for equity in ESSA to drive improvement in our nation’s schools. 

"We are committed to working together with our state and local education agencies and associations to guarantee the success of this new law. This includes the important work our members have built their careers around (providing students with excellent educational opportunities) and the role of equitable resources in supporting educational achievement. We, as state association executives, came together to support ESSA in part for its continued commitment to equity, including strong bipartisan support for ensuring that Title I dollars continue to be in addition to—not in place of—state and local dollars. We come together again, now, in response to the USED regulations to ensure that the final rule supports the important work of ESSA and the SNS provision without unnecessarily disrupting existing efforts to improve resource equity.

"Our members are very familiar with education finance, an understanding that highlights how USED’s proposed SNS regulations run counter to the very goal they aim to address: ensuring students have access to equitable education resources. Because compliance with the proposed regulation would be based on spending thresholds, districts would have to centrally manage all decisions that affect costs. The proposal would force school personnel to make the difficult decision of compliance over meeting the needs of the students they serve...." Read the full letter.

October 21, 2016(1)

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

After Nearly a Decade, School Investments Still Way Down in Some States

Earlier this week, our friends at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released an updated version of their report detailing trends on investment in education. In a nutshell, as the title reveals, after nearly a decade, school investments still way down in some states. You can read the full report here, and we have pulled a few highlights for your quick review:

  • At least 23 states will provide less “general” or “formula” funding — the primary form of state support for elementary and secondary schools — in the current school year than in 2008.
  • Eight states have cut general funding per student by about 10 percent or more over this period.
  • Thirty-five states provided less overall state funding per student in the 2014 school year (the most recent year available) than in the 2008 school year, before the recession took hold.
The report is a very thorough walk through of trends in state and local funding in education and includes some very helpful and visually powerful charts detailing these trends. You can also take a look at the report's webpage.

 

October 21, 2016

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

State Advocacy: Michigan lawmakers take aim at proposed federal school funding 'mandate'

Earlier this week, the Michigan State Senate Education Committee passed a resolution related to the Department's proposed regulations on the 'supplement, not supplant' provisions within Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act. The resolution addresses key concerns with proposal, including federal overreach. You can read a related article here and we have embedded the full text below.

A resolution to urge the President and Congress of the United States to curb and clarify the role and authority of the U.S. Department of Education as it relates to the "supplement not supplant" provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Whereas, The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires that federal Title I funding to low-income students supplements, rather than supplants, state and local dollars. This provision is intended to keep local school districts from using federal Title I dollars as a replacement for state and local dollars in low-income schools; and

Whereas, To enforce this provision, the U.S. Department of Education has proposed burdensome regulations to require school districts to show that average per-pupil state and local spending in Title I schools is at least equal to the average spending in non-Title I schools. The rules allow several different options for districts to calculate spending and demonstrate compliance with "supplement not supplant"; and

Whereas, The proposed regulations exceed the legal authority of the department and blatantly trample on explicit statutory prohibitions. Specific prohibitions in the "supplement not supplant" provisions include subdivision 1118(b)(4), which says, "Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize or permit the Secretary to prescribe the specific methodology a local educational agency uses to allocate state and local funds to each school receiving assistance under this part"; and

Whereas, School district personnel have complained that the proposed regulations would be unworkable. The School Superintendents Association (AASA) stated that the proposed regulation "glosses over the realities of school finance, the reality of how and when funds are allocated, the extent to which districts do or do not have complete flexibility, the patterns of teacher sorting and hiring, and the likelihood that many students would experience the rule, as drafted, in a way that undermines true efforts aimed at increasing education equity"; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate, That we urge the President of the United States to direct the U.S. Department of Education to stop its federal overreach as it relates to the "supplement not supplant" provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act; and be it further

Resolved, That we memorialize Congress to enact legislation that clarifies the Department of Education's role and authority as it pertains to "supplement not supplant" provisions; and be it further

Resolved, That copies of this resolution be transmitted to the President of the United States, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the members of the Michigan congressional delegation, and the U. S. Department of Education as public comment on proposed rules.

 

October 12, 2016

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS) Permanent link

Call to Action: Submit Comments to USED ESSA Regulations

How to File Comments with the US Education Department (USED)

COMMENTS ARE DUE November 7

  • Draft your response comments. You can create your own comments or work from AASA’s template letter.
  • Go to https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=ED-2016-OESE-0056-0001  
  • Click ‘Comment Now’ (the blue box in the upper right hand corner) and you will be taken to an online submittal form.
  • In the ‘Comment Box’, type something like “I submit the attached comments in response to USED’s proposed regulation on the supplement/supplant provision within Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act.”
  • Upload your file (attach your comments).
  • Enter your name in the text boxes and select your title/organization in the ‘Category’ drop down box. Please note that there is a ‘school administrator’ option.
  • Click ‘Continue’. You will be taken to a new screen.
  • Review your submission, check the box indicating that your submission may be shared, and then click ‘submit comment’.
  • If you are pressed for time or need help submitting the comments, I can submit them on your behalf. Please email me your final comments (nellerson@aasa.org) no later than November 1, with the subject line Please file ESSA comments.

Share Your Letter with Your Congressional Delegation: Contact a member of the advocacy team with any questions about who to contact when you share your USED ESSA comments with the hill. 

Looking for related content?  

September 15, 2016

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS, GUEST BLOGS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

Cross Post: USED Regulations on Supplement/Supplant Could Change School Reporting

This blog post originally appeared in the ASBO International policy blog, School Business Network. It is reposted here, with permission.

(Note: The information below is from, “Supplement not Supplant: Latest ESSA Regulations and What It Means for Districts,” a webinar hosted by AASA—The School Superintendents Association for AASA and ASBO members. Access a recording of the webinar here and the PowerPoint slide presentation here.)

Late last month, the Department of Education (ED) proposed a rule for Title I supplement not supplant (SNS), a funding provision in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that requires state and local education agencies (SEAs/LEAs) to ensure federal Title I dollars add to (supplement) and do not replace (supplant) state and local funding. While the overall purpose of SNS remains the same in ED’s proposal, the means for demonstrating compliance would change if the rule is implemented.

ED’s proposal is well-intentioned for trying to ensure Title I dollars support the students the law is intended to benefit, but could upend K–12 school spending and fiscal reporting practices as the rule currently stands. The rule also conflicts with Congress’ original intent for ESSA when officials passed the education law, which was to roll back the federal government’s influence in schools. Yet this proposal would allow the federal government to dictate how dollars are spent at the local level. The proposal directly affects school business officials (SBOs), who allocate resources, manage fiscal reports, and ensure Title I compliance for the school district. To be clear, ED’s SNS rule would govern how state and local dollars should be spent, not federal dollars. Complying with the rule is a condition for receiving Title I federal dollars, but the rule itself governs the allocation of state and local funds.

So what does the proposal actually say? LEAs must annually publish their methodology for allocating state and local funds in a format and language that is easy to understand, and they have four options for demonstrating compliance with SNS. Below are highlights of each methodology with potential areas of concern that the rule’s language does not address. Districts must meet one of four of these benchmarks:

 

  • Weighted Per-Pupil Formula
    • LEAs must distribute to schools “almost all” of the state and local funds available to the LEA through a weighted student funding formula (student-based budgeting formula), where educationally disadvantaged students generate more money for their schools.
    • This includes but isn’t limited to low-income students, English Learners (ELs), and students with disabilities. (For an example of how district calculations would work under this formula, see slide 7 of the PowerPoint presentation.)
    • What are some concerns with Method 1? 
      • The rule doesn’t define what “almost all” of the money available to the LEA means; is this 70% of funds? 90%? Also, the rule doesn’t account for weights that are not based on student disadvantage, such as preschool, gifted and talented, CTE, or magnet education programs. How should these fit into the equation?
  • Average Personnel and Non-Personnel Costs (Resource Formula)
    • LEAs must distribute to schools “almost all” of the state and local funds available to the LEA through a “consistent resource formula” where each Title I school receives at least:
      • The average districtwide salary for each category of school personnel (e.g., principals, teachers, custodians, etc.), multiplied by the number of school personnel in each category assigned to the school under the formula, and
      • The average districtwide expenditure for non-personnel resources multiplies by the number of students in school. (For an example of how district calculations would work under this formula, see slide 10 of the PowerPoint presentation.)
    • What are some concerns with Method 2? 
      • Again, the rule doesn’t define what “almost all” of the money available to the LEA means, nor does it define what a “consistent resource formula” means. There are also a lot of unanswered questions about resource allocations if they vary based on program differences, like with full-time employee (FTE) allocations. Some schools allocate more FTEs based on grade (lower grades often have more FTEs than higher grades), or FTEs may vary for low-income schools, or for special education, IB, dual-immersion programs, and magnet programs. Moreover, what if the allocated FTE position cannot be filled (for example if there is a shortage of special education teachers)?
      • The rule doesn’t clarify whether benefits, pay-for-performance, or other performance-based compensation are supposed to be included in the salary calculation. Nor does it explain whether long-term substitutes should be included in salary calculations. What about staff members who work in multiple buildings? How should custodians, groundskeepers, and other personnel who would fit into his description be calculated? What if their time in buildings is based on need and not allocable in advance? How do LEAs account for staff paid for at the central level who work in school buildings (e.g., building services, maintenance, cafeteria, safety, and grounds keeping staff)? And finally, what exactly does ED consider to be a “non-personnel resource”? The rule only creates more questions. 

  • State-Established Compliance Test
    • LEAs must distribute to schools “almost all” of the state and local funds available to the LEA in a manner chosen by the LEA that:
      • Is applied consistently district wide, and
      • Meets a funds-based compliance test as established by the SEA. This test must be as rigorous as Options/Methodologies 1 & 2, and has been approved by ED through a federal peer review process.
    • What are some concerns with Method 3?
      • The “almost all” definition continues to be a vague term here, but more importantly, this methodology would require federal approval for an SEA to carry out and would be the greatest example of federal overreach. This approach is arguably the most in conflict with Congressional intent for ESSA law. Also, the onus is on SEAs to develop the test, which must be rigorous enough to earn ED’s approval, making this method the most labor-intensive as states are reworking their ESSA accountability frameworks at the same time.

  • ED’s Special Rule (Equalized Spending)
    • LEAs must equalize per-pupil spending in Title I and non-Title I schools. LEAs automatically comply with SNS if they spend an amount of state/local funds per pupil in Title I schools that is equal to or greater than the average per-pupil amount in non-Title I schools; if LEAs meet this special rule they do not need to satisfy any of the three methodologies above.
    • This rule is essentially what ED proposed in April after its negotiated rulemaking process on SNS failed. It’s considered controversial and an example of federal overreach in local school spending, especially since the method would have potential unintended consequences like forced teacher transfers. Districts spend a lot on teacher salaries, and to remain compliant they’d have to shift teachers around to different schools to demonstrate equalized spending, which would have adverse effects on teacher union contracts and negotiations.
    • This option has some flexibilities. Spending in Title I schools can vary up to 5% of average in non-Title I schools in a given year. An LEA can exclude any Title I school that serves fewer than 100 students. An LEA can demonstrate compliance if it shows that one or more non-Title I school(s) gets extra money to serve a “high proportion” of students with disabilities, ELs, or low-income students, which disproportionally affects the average spending in non-Title I schools.
    • What are some concerns with Method 4?
      • What costs will be included/excluded in the per-pupil calculations? ED’s proposed rules for SNS versus ESSA’s accountability requirements contradict each other. The former draft rule references the per-pupil reporting requirements of Section 1111(h)(C)(x) of ESSA. “The per-pupil expenditures of Federal, State, and local funds, including actual personnel expenditures and actual non-personnel expenditures of Federal, State, and local funds, disaggregated by source of funds, for each local educational agency and each school in the State for the preceding fiscal year.” However ED’s accountability rule says the per-pupil spending report would include expenditures for administration, instruction, instructional support, student support services, transportation services, operation and maintenance of plant, fixed charges, preschool, and net expenditures to cover deficits for food services and student body activities. It excludes expenditures for community services, capital outlay, and debt service.
      • Regarding this method’s flexibility provisions, the rule doesn’t define what a “high proportion” of students with disabilities, ELs, or low-income students equals. 90%? 70%? Also, what if more high-cost special education students are in non-Title I schools, where a few students could impact the average per-pupil calculation?

The list of concerns for each methodology reflects the issue that ED’s proposal does not adequately consider the various complexities of school finance and local resource allocation. While ED’s wish to honor Title I law is noble, its approach conflicts with ESSA’s statutory language regarding the level of influence ED is supposed to have in local education. Congress passed ESSA because officials believed that schools and classrooms should be managed by local education leaders who are closer to the ground regarding local education funding and equity issues.

SBOs and other K–12 stakeholders may submit public comments to ED with their concerns about the SNS proposal at the Federal Register website until November 7. Advocates may also urge Congress to overturn ED’s regulations via the legislative process. ASBO International members can find their representatives via the Legislative Action Center and urge Congress to oppose the SNS regulation there. Stay tuned to the Legislative Affairs Community for more advocacy resources, including draft template letters to send to elected officials in opposition to the ED rule, coming soon.

September 6, 2016(1)

(ESEA, RURAL EDUCATION, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

Back to School Advocacy Wrap Up: Of Appropriations, Epi Pens, ESSA Regulations and Secure Rural Schools

Recess is over, for the kids and the adults, and that means Congress is back in town and back to session. In an effort to provide a one-stop succinct overview of what happened during recess, this blog post is a wrap up of the topics AASA advocacy was monitoring this summer. You can access an related preview in the first part of our ‘Back to School’ editions of Legislative Corps, AASA’s weekly advocacy update here. (And email Leslie Finnan to subscribe to the newsletter: lfinnan@aasa.org)

Appropriations: We provided a one pager with talking points as it relates to AASA’s legislative priorities for federal funding in fiscal year 2017 (FY17), which starts October 1. FY17 dollars will be in schools for the 2017-18 school year, the first year of ESSA implementation. Congress will not complete its appropriations work on time. When they are unable to complete the appropriations process (consideration and adoption of the 12 stand alone appropriations bills that collectively fund the entirety of the federal government), they can either pass short term funding solution (called a continuing resolution, or CR) or there is a shutdown. There will NOT be a shutdown this year (it’s a presidential election year!), so we are looking at a CR scenario.

Time wise, the House could vote on an initial version of a CR as early as the week of September 19, giving the Senate one week to work through the details before adjourning for another recess. How this CR process plays out is a factor of length, internal republican politics, and riders:

  • Length: Will it be a short term CR that kicks into December, post-election but before the new administration? Will it be six months, into the new administration? Or will they pass a long-term continuing resolution, freezing funding for FY17? (Hint: the long-term CR is less likely. It removes discretion over cuts and increases, and from an education point of view, would be concerning both for funding levels AND ESSA construct. FY16 was allocated for NCLB program construct; FY17 is an ESSA year, and the programs and funding are structured differently).
  • Internal Republican Politics: Will Speaker Ryan be able to harness his caucus for a unifying vote? Will the House Freedom Caucus hold the line on its budget priority (a six month CR), and in doing so, play nicely with House Leadership or drive a wedge and force Speaker Ryan to work with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Dems to avoid a shutdown? In terms of what to expect for Democratic funding priorities within this negotiation, look for anti-Zika money, gun violence, lead poisoning, and support for opioid abuse programs. 
  • Riders: Policy riders are a hiccup in appropriations. It blends two usually distinct entities: appropriations language (paying for a program) and authorizing language (the policy behind a program). Policy riders end up on appropriations bills when Congress needs to move a policy that they can’t move through normal order. It also is increasingly used when a policy may not move on its own, but doesn’t warrant enough opposition to force an overall ‘no vote’ on a larger appropriations bill (which would shut down the government). AASA typically opposes policy riders and supports clean appropriations bills.

Epinephrine Pens: At the end of August, the exponential rise in the cost of epinephrine pens (epi pens) garnered a lot of media and Congressional attention. In a nutshell, the company that owns the brand name medicine within Epi Pen (Mylan) raised the price of the pens by more than 400 percent since 2007. EpiPen is a $1 billion business per year for Mylan. Mylan controls about 98% of the epi pen market. The CEO of Mylan is the daughter of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). There was no action on Capitol Hill related to policy that would impact schools, but it did bring up the 2013 federal policy that incentivizes states to have policies that require schools to stock epi pens and train staff in the administration of Epi Pens. There is not an effort to repeal that provision, but AASA did have a lot of outreach to press and the hill as they followed up on our earlier opposition to the proposal, citing both policy and cost implications. Read our related AASA blog post from 2013. In a quick outreach to our advocacy network, we received nearly 100 detailed responses outlining what your states and districts currently do related to epi pens, including stocking, training, and cost. Thank you to everyone who responded. Want to join the AASA advocacy network ? Email Noelle Ellerson (nellerson@aasa.org). 

ESSA Regulations: USED is knee-deep in its efforts to issue guidance, regulations and technical assistance to support ESSA implementation at the state and local level. You can check out the AASA ESSA Resources Library for our set of support materials, including links to all of the related ESSA material from USED. 

  • AASA Response to USED Proposed Regulations on ESSA Accountability
  • AASA Response to USED Proposed Regulations on ESSA Assessment forthcoming
  • Still to come: AASA Response to USED Proposed Regulations for Supplement/Supplant

USED Regulations and Guidance: The Department has been on a roll when it comes to releasing guidance and regulations for a number of federal programs. The list below captures those that have been released since July 15:

Forest Counties: A bulk of time on the hill in August was dedicated to maintaining awareness of the Secure Rural Schools and Communities Program (Forest Counties). This program provides federal funding to those counties who have a large presence of federal land (national parks or forests). As a result of the federally managed land which is not subject to property taxes, local counties and schools receive funding through this program in recognition of the federal policy that hinders local ability to generate funds for local county and school needs. You can check out our August Call to Action on the program, including our one-pager. We, at a minimum, need Congress to approve a one-year funding fix (including retro-active funding) for the current school year. As it stands right now, there is zero funding available for the current school year. If Congress is feeling ambitious, a two- or three-year funding fix would be welcome, but the overall goal is to secure a program extension/reauthorization. The broader bill that the program falls under includes the politically divisive topic of forest management, and the politics around whether to cut trees or not carries a weight that has, to date, left the program unauthorized and now, unfunded 

 

 

 

August 3, 2016(2)

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS) Permanent link

AASA Submits Comments on USED ESSA Accountability Regulations

Earlier this summer, USED released their proposed regulation for the accountability and state plans provisions under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). These regulations, once final, will guide the implementation of the ESSA accountability provision. 

AASA reviewed the proposed regulation and  shared our summary and analysis. We issued a call to action (thank you to everyone who submitted comments).

AASA was pleased to submit formal comments ahead of the August 1 deadline. While you can read our full comments, here is a list of the topics we commented on:

 

  • N-size
  • 95 percent participation
  • summative indicator
  • timeline for implementation of comprehensive supports
  • foster child transport
  • previously identified child with a disability
  • definition of long-term English learners
  • consistently underperforming
  • evidence-based
  • school approval in comprehensive supports/improvement plans
  • four-year graduation rate
  • overview section of LEA report cards
  • mailing LEA report cards
  • root cause analysis; and
  • support for educators

 

July 19, 2016(1)

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

Of Appropriations, Advocacy Conference, and More

This blog post is a catch-all, including a few additional items related to last week's legislative advocacy conference as well as a few advocacy-related updates and items.

Appropriations: Last week, AASA joined the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) in sending a joint letter to the House Appropriations Committee as it considered its Labor/Health/Human Services/Education/Other (where education funding lies) funding proposal for FY17. Check out this chart for a side-by-side comparison of FY16 levels, the President's FY17 proposal, the Senate bill and the House bill. The joint letter calls on Congress to address the true long-term pressure impacting education investment, the funding caps. 

"We commend the sub-committee for their work to move an LHHS budget, acknowledge the education-related increases in the bill and recognize the budget pressures facing each appropriations sub-committee, we continue to emphasize the importance of eliminating the discretionary funding caps. Adequate investment in education is at the foundation of our nation’s economic viability and the current caps significantly hamper the ability of Congress to invest in education."

Advocacy Conference: In an update to the blog post from last week, here is the full set of advocacy conference materials, including power point presentations, talking points AND the feedback form. 

Environmental Protection Agency Takes Action on PCB Regulations (Impacting School Districts, Opportunity to Participate in July 28 meeting): The EPA is circling back to an earlier proposal, from 2013, related to the removal of PCBs (a known carcinogen) from public buildings. In this newest iteration, they are expected to relay that they are narrowing the focus to public schools and day care facilities. The meeting is set for 2 pm ET on July 28 and will be open to your participation via webinar. You can read the invitation letter hereThis blog post will be updated when the enrollment information is available

  • Background: In 2013, the EPA started an effort aimed at reducing the presence of PCBs (a known carcinogen) from public buildings. This would include public schools. AASA collaborated with ASBO and the National School Boards Association (NSBA) to respond to the proposal, which was sensitive to balancing the critical responsibility of environmental safety for students and staff with the fiscal implications of removal timelines. This effort is emerging with renewed focus this month, and will narrow its requirements for removing PCBs to only public schools. Talking points:
    • School administrators, school board members, and school business officials remain steadfast in their commitments to providing the students they serve with an excellent education in a safe learning environment, which includes removing potentially harmful environmental factors (like PCBs).  
    • With any federal policy or regulation, the success of the end goal—in this case, elimination of light ballasts with PCBs—depends as much on the policy itself as it does in recognizing the importance of state and local leadership as well as the unintended consequences, costs, and burdens that may come with the policy or regulation.
    • Current regulations (the “lamps rule” through the U.S. Department of Energy [DOE]) have implications for the phasing out/removal of PCB-bearing light ballasts. Given that this rule is already accelerating the removal of old fluorescent light ballasts (FLBs) nationwide, and the compelling data from our comprehensive national data, we question the need for further regulation from the EPA.
    • While we appreciate EPA being diligent in bringing in state and local governance groups in an effort to grow support for providing state and local funding to help offset the costs associated with this redundant regulation, the reality is two-fold: this pressure has been in place for years and few states have acted proactively to provide support to eliminate PCBs. Also, explicit to schools, 31 states are currently spending less per pupil than they did in 2010. This push for funding for PCBs would be at the direct expense of making state education budgets barely break even with levels more than six years ago.

ESSA Call to Action: Earlier this summer, USED released their proposed regulation for the accountability and state plans provisions under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). These regulations, once final, will guide the implementation of the ESSA accountability provision. Now is the time to weigh in, to provide feedback for USED to consider as they review and revise the proposal into its final form. AASA reviewed the proposed regulation and  shared our summary and analysis last month. This call to action is designed to support our members in their work to respond to this proposal. AASA has drafted a template response for you to use as part of our Call to Action. All responses must be submitted by August 1. Full details are available on the blog.

 

July 19, 2016

(ESEA, RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND TOOLKITS, GUEST BLOGS) Permanent link

Moving Beyond Pilot Phase: District Conditions for Scaling Personalized Learning

Today's guest blog post comes from Matt Williams, Vice President of Policy & Advocacy at KnowledgeWorks and features their latest report, District Conditions for Scale.

KnowledgeWorks is a social enterprise focused on ensuring that every student experiences meaningful personalized learning that allows him or her to thrive in college, career and civic life. By offering a portfolio of innovative education approaches and advancing aligned policies, KnowledgeWorks seeks to activate and develop the capacity of communities and educators to build and sustain vibrant learning ecosystems that allow each student to thrive.

The District Conditions for Scale were constructed upon the hard won lessons of district level trailblazers from across the country. These district leaders piloted, assessed, recalibrated, and scaled without an instruction manual. KnowledgeWorks interviewed over 30 district leaders from across the country in an effort to refine, align, and validate the conditions against what is working in the field. The conditions and the cross cutting meta-themes provide a framework for district leaders to scale personalized learning.

Personalized learning is stuck in the school pilot phase. There are countless examples of personalized learning environments and schools from coast to coast. We have all seen that great school and the world of possibilities it offers for the students that attend the school. But how do we move from the isolated examples to whole systems designed around providing personalized learning options for all students? How do we build a school system, a learning system, with personalized learning at the core?

One important step in this work is to identify the conditions of scale that exist at a district level. KnowledgeWorks released District Conditions for Scale: A Practical Guide to Scaling Personalized Learning. The report focuses on the conditions that a K-12 school district should put in place to support the scaling of personalized learning. The conditions that we put forth and examine are based on interviews with district leaders from across the country that are leading system level change around personalized learning. 

One might ask why focus on scaling personalized learning at the district level? First, the district level is closest to the schools and thus the students as well as to the educators. Moreover, the district level has the most control over system vision, curriculum, and instruction, as well as formative assessment and student supports. Secondly, by solving for scale at the district level we gain a clearer vision for what supportive and catalytic policy can look like at both the state and federal level creating a better aligned, more supportive education system that is oriented towards putting the student at the center of the system. 

The conditions themselves aren’t rocket science or even unfamiliar ranging from curriculum to instruction, from student supports to professional development, from learning environments to leadership development. What gives the conditions their power is a predisposed drive towards personalized learning as well as cross cutting meta-themes. Several meta-themes emerged as the interviewees discussed their experiences: 

Vision: Included in all comments from district leaders, directly or indirectly, was the idea of an aligned vision. All parts of a district should be aligned to the vision, including professional development, the selection of curriculum and instructional practices, and the process of innovation. While it was assumed that the vision would include student achievement, district leaders focused on the general idea of having a vision rather than the specifics of their districts’ visions.

Culture: The shared vision of a district clearly informs the system culture that a district will establish. For many of the district leaders, a key element of culture is expectations around innovation. Many of the districts were forced to make changes with no additional, or in some cases decreased, resources and money. As a result, innovative thinking is an expectation at all levels, including in partnerships, and especially encouraged at the school level. District leaders emphasized the importance of continuous improvement and fixing problems immediately.

Transparency: Resulting from the notion that members of the education community must feel safe to make mistakes, transparency was another overarching theme of interviews with district leaders. Districts need to be transparent to the board, unions, parents, partners, and the public. 

The District Conditions were constructed upon the hard won lessons of district level trailblazers from across the country. These district leaders piloted, assessed, recalibrated, and scaled without an instruction manual. It is our hope that these conditions begin to help districts from across the country implement a more aligned, supportive education system that is oriented towards putting the student at the center of the system through an expressed focus on personalized learning. 

July 13 2016

(ESEA, ADVOCACY TOOLS) Permanent link

AASA Call to Action: ESSA Accountability

Earlier this summer, USED released their proposed regulation for the accountability and state plans provisions under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). These regulations, once final, will guide the implementation of the ESSA accountability provision. Now is the time to weigh in, to provide feedback for USED to consider as they review and revise the proposal into its final form.

AASA reviewed the proposed regulation and  shared our summary and analysis last month. This call to action is designed to support our members in their work to respond to this proposal. 

CALL TO ACTION: Your voice matters. Please take the time to personalize the template form. Insert you district letterhead, and follow the prompts (in italics) in the template for types of information to share to personalize the response. Feel free to add on or remove content based on your read of the regulations and our analysis. The important thing is that you weigh in. All comments must be filed by August 1, 2016. 

  1. Access AASA’s template response.
  2. Personalize the draft letter as appropriate, including district/association letterhead.
  3. Save the form.
  4. Submit the form. You cab submit it through the regulations.gov online portal OR you can email it to Noelle to file for you. In your email to Noelle, sent no later than Thursday July 28, please use the subject line ‘File ESSA Comments’ and list your name, title, district/association, street address and email address.

 

 

July 12, 2016

(ESEA, PERKINS, SCHOOL NUTRITION, ADVOCACY TOOLS, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

Legislative Advocacy Conference Materials

Our legislative advocacy conference is now in full swing! To those of you joining us, it is great having you here! We are excited to send you all to the Hill tomorrow. The resources we have shared are all available here:

Advocacy Update Slideshow

Talking points:

After your meetings on the Hill, be sure to let us know how they went and give us any feedback on the conference here: http://goo.gl/forms/PKps6rs1w7KxUUh52 and be sure to tweet out pictures and stories using #AASAAdv.

We hope you have a great day on the Hill. If you have any questions or want some company, please be sure to call/email/find us!

 If you are not able to join us this year, I hope you consider coming next year – we’re having a great time!

June 24, 2016

(ESEA, PERKINS, ADVOCACY TOOLS) Permanent link

AASA Advocacy Blogging Round Up

This blog is a collection of quick bits of information we want to flag for you.

House Releases Draft Language for Perkins Career Tech: Today, the House Education and the Workforce Committee released its draft reauthorization proposal for the Perkins Career/Technical Education program. AASA’s Sasha Pudelski is reviewing the language and we will be providing summary and analysis.

ESSA Oversight Hearing: AASA President David Schuler testified before the House Education and the Workforce Committee as part of its most recent ESSA oversight hearing, Next Steps in K-12 Education: Examining Recent Efforts to Implement the Every Student Succeeds Act. You can access David’s testimony here, and read our related press release.

AASA’s Summary and Initial Response to Proposed ESSA Accountability Regulations: Formal comments to the Department’s proposed ESSA regulations will be filed by August 1. You can read AASA’s summary of and initial response to the proposed accountability regulations here, and it is posted in AASA’s ESSA Resource Library.

Foster Child Guidance from USED: The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services released guidance to states, school districts, and child welfare agencies on new provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for supporting children and youth in foster care. (See letter on guidance). The guidance, which is non-binding, touches upon: educational stability requirements; procedures for jointly determining which school is in a child’s best interest; procedures for jointly determining transportation to maintain children in their original schools; transfer of relevant records; and protecting student data and privacy (blog post). The foster youth provisions in the ESSA take effect December 10, 2016 (letter on timelines). This guidance is the first in a series of ESSA guidance packages. The Department of Education plans on releasing guidance for early learners; homeless children and youth; English Learners (Title III); recruiting, preparing, and training teachers and principals (Title II); and student support and academic enrichment (Title IV). The agency is also still reviewing feedback from the field to determine what, if any, additional guidance is a priority for full implementation of the law in the 2017-18 school year.

Perkins Career Tech Guidance: USED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) released a Dear Colleague Letter emphasizing all students -- regardless of their sex -- must have equal access to the range of career and technical (CTE) programs offered. The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act requires states to meet targets for participation and completion rates of males and females in programs that are non-traditional for their sex.

June 9, 2016

(ESEA, ED FUNDING) Permanent link

AASA Letter Expresses Concern with Senate LHHS Bill

In advance of today's Senate Appropriations Committee meeting, in which the committee will consider its bill for the FY17 Labor, Health, Human Services, Education and Other bill, which includes education funding, AASA sent a letter to the committee outlining our concerns with the overall funding level and program-specific allocations.

AASA is keenly aware of the pressure that current funding caps--including those of the 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act--place on appropriations allocations. We believe it is the responsibility of Congress to raise these caps to better support appropriate investment in programs, including education. 

Tomorrow marks the six-month anniversary of the signing of the Every Student Succeeds Act, and if the Senate Appropriations Committee passes the bill they consider today, it will mean that our nation's schools start the 2017-18 school year--the first of ESSA--facing a $150 shortfall at the local level.

You can read the full letter here, and the text is embedded below.

On behalf of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, representing more than 13,000 school system leaders across the country, I write to relay our thoughts on the FY 2017 Labor-Health Human Services, Education and Other Appropriations bill, which is scheduled for consideration in your committee today, June 9. While we commend the sub-committee for their work to move the first bipartisan LHHS budget in seven years and acknowledge the budget pressures facing each appropriations sub-committee, we remain concerned that the education provisions within the bill, which include nominal increases for a small number of programs, include a $220 million reduction in discretionary funding for education (compared to FY2016 enacted levels). 

Almost exactly six months ago today, President Obama signed the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law. FY17 allocations are the funds that will support the first year of ESSA implementation, and the allocations included in the bill you consider today fall short of supporting the new law. Congress must follow its strong bipartisan support for authorizing statute with adequate funding levels. In particular, it is critical to ensure a Title I allocation that ensures at least level funding to school districts. While the bill includes a $50 million increase over the FY16 Title I and School Improvement Grant allocations, it still results in a shortfall of $150 million in local level allocations, meaning school districts will start their first year under ESSA with a Title I cut. We are also deeply concerned with the low allocation to the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (Title IV). Title IV helps provide well-rounded education opportunities for all students, and we believe the program should receive a higher allocation, at a level robust enough to support meaningful formula driven allocations.

The success of our nation is shaped by the success of our public schools and the students they serve. We strongly urge Congress to support negotiations to raise the caps on non-defense discretionary funding, even beyond those of the 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act, which increase pressure on subcommittee allocations and continue to tie the hands of appropriators to more adequately invest in education. In addition to the nominal increase and local level cuts in Title I, the caps and subsequent allocations mean that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) receives a $40 million increase, which leaves the federal share hovering around 16% (less than half of the authorized 40% of the additional cost associated with educating student with special needs) and below FY10 allocations when adjusted for inflation.

As the FY17 LHHS-Education bill moves forward, we urge you to improve Title I funding to avoid cuts in local level allocations, to increase Title IV allocations to a level that supports meaningful formula allocation, and to oppose any ideological policy riders.

April 19, 2016

(ESEA, GUEST BLOGS) Permanent link

Guest Blog Post: Unlocking the Key to School Improvement Success under ESSA

Today's guest post comes from Chelsea Straus, Policy Analyst for the K-12 Education Policy team at the Center for American Progress.

During the recent signing of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), President Barack Obama remarked that the new education law “focuses on a national goal of ensuring that all of our students graduate prepared for college and future careers.” To help meet this goal, ESSA requires that states and districts take action in their lowest-performing schools to dramatically improve student outcomes.

While No Child Left Behind (NCLB) prescribed specific actions for every struggling school, ESSA gives district leaders significant flexibility in selecting school improvement strategies. However, the law does require that district leaders implement “evidence-based” practices in these schools. 

Unfortunately, there are a limited number of school improvement strategies supported by substantial evidence. The key question is: Now that districts are in the driver’s seat, where should they look for help when crafting school improvement plans and selecting effective intervention strategies? The answer is fairly simple: follow the lead of districts that have successfully turned around low-performing schools. 

A new report from the Center for American Progress investigates how three districts – Houston, Texas; Denver, Colorado; and Lawrence, Massachusetts – improved their schools using a specific set of evidence-based practices. These practices include data-driven instruction, excellence in teaching and leadership, a culture of high expectations, frequent and intensive tutoring, and an extended school day and year.

All three of these districts were able to improve student achievement in many underperforming schools. Through strategic preparation and perseverance, these districts overcame barriers associated with allotting sufficient planning time, recruiting and training exemplary teachers, financing the reforms, and securing stakeholder investment. These districts were able to achieve success through increased planning time, school-level budgeting, aggressive recruiting tactics, and word-of-mouth around the effectiveness of these practices. 

As other districts contemplate how to improve low-performing schools under ESSA, they should use CAP’s report as a guide to help ensure a smooth and effective school improvement process. 

ESSA gives districts a new opportunity to take on the challenges of turning around their lowest-performing schools, without the restrictive mandates of NCLB. Although this flexibility can be overwhelming, district leaders can and should follow in the footsteps of their peers in places like Houston, Denver, and Lawrence. These three districts help shed light on the types of practices that have evidence of effectiveness and they have created a path forward for other districts. 

Now districts should seize ESSA implementation as an opportunity to infuse these practices into their low-performing schools. Improving underperforming schools with evidence-based practices will help move us closer to ensuring that all students graduate college- and career-ready. 

 

 

April 12, 2016

(ESEA) Permanent link

AASA's Statement on Every Student Succeeds Act Hearing - April 12, 2016

In response to Tuesday's Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on ESSA implementation, AASA released the following statement in the press release below.

--

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
James Minichello
703-875-0723
703-774-6953 (cell)
jminichello@aasa.org


Alexandria, Va. – April 12, 2016 – AASA Executive Director Daniel A. Domenech released the following statement in advance of the April 12, 2016 Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing, ESSA Implementation in States and School Districts: Perspectives from the U.S. Secretary of Education.
 
“AASA, The School Superintendents Association, is proud of its endorsement of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and remains committed to working with both Congress and the U.S. Department of Education as we move forward to support successful ESSA implementation. Our organization represents the nation’s more than 13,000 school system leaders and we are watching closely to ensure that the regulations and guidance that will further shape the law remain aligned and consistent with the underlying statute.
 
“Congress acted very deliberately in its broad, bipartisan work to make changes in certain areas while leaving others untouched. With a bill so clearly focused on positioning state and local educational agencies as the drivers of policy decisions, while ensuring the role of the federal government to support and strengthen the nation’s schools, it is critical that the U.S Education Department (USED) refrain from defining terms and aspects of the new law that Congress gave communities the flexibility to determine.
 
“To the extent that ESSA establishes definitions and requirements, there are policy decisions crafted with significant input from broad, diverse constituencies, including educators, the civil rights community and the disability community. To the extent that ESSA refrains from a national definition or requirement should remain a state and local decision, unless there is consensus that federal clarification is needed. ESSA anticipated and addressed this very tension, and ‘prohibit[s] any such regulation that would create new requirements inconsistent with or outside the scope of the law.’ New federal definitions through regulation would represent new requirements and would be outside the scope and intent of the law.
 
“In particular, we are deeply concerned that the proposed regulations represent a serious overreach in the areas of ‘supplement, not supplant’ and alternate assessment.

  • Supplement Not Supplant: Supplement, not supplant is one of three federal provisions aimed at preserving the integrity of Title I funding. Maintenance of Effort evaluates the dollar amount; supplement not supplant addresses the construct/methodology of allocation; and comparability addresses equitable allocation. They are distinct statutory provisions, and ESSA changed only one: Congress was as deliberate in its move to modify supplement not supplant as it was to leave both maintenance of effort and comparability unchanged. We are concerned that the proposed regulations reflect a ‘mission creep’ focused on getting changes that Congress denied in statute through regulation. Further, the proposal will unnecessarily burden schools, impact day-to-day operations, result in forced transfers of teachers, and disrupt various methods of school budgeting, including weighted student formulae.
  • Alternate Assessments: The alternate assessment language in ESSA represents a very carefully negotiated compromise between the various groups represented in the negotiated rulemaking committee. We are concerned that the proposed regulations change ESSA statute before it has even been implemented. Echoing a sentiment listed above, we are also concerned with an effort to establish a national definition for students with the most severe cognitive disabilities. The previous law, No Child Left Behind, represented a much more prescriptive role for the federal government in education and did not define the term. To see a definition in the proposed regulation runs counter to the intent of the underlying ESSA statute, which is clear in its focus on state and local decision making and was deliberate in not defining the term. It is a term that has, to date, been defined at the state and local level, and this is an approach that is appropriately deferential to the role of the individualized education program team in crafting these decisions.  The 1 percent cap on alternate assessments remains in place and is a guiding mark. Under ESSA, it remains a litmus test that strikes an appropriate balance between ensuring that students are not disproportionately identified for alternate assessments; preserving the role of the IEP team and the significance of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in driving alternate assessment decisions;  and providing limited flexibility to those schools who may find they have an atypically high rate of students who need to take an alternate assessment. We remain optimistic that USED can and will revise its regulations to more closely reflect statutory intent.”

###

For specific questions about ESSA implementation, please contact Noelle Ellerson, AASA associate executive director, policy and advocacy, at nellerson@aasa.org.

About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.

March 15, 2016

(ESEA, GUEST BLOGS) Permanent link

AASA Joins 10 National Organizations Supporting Increased FY17 Funding for Title I

AASA joined ten other national organizations in a letter addressed to the House and Senate appropriations committee, urging strong support for increased funding for Title I, with an assurance towards avoiding any decrease in local level allocations:

"Without action by the Appropriations Committee, virtually every school district in the nation will unexpectedly find their local Title I allocation cut in school year 2017-18 just as they begin to implement the new law. The Education Department’s proposed Title IA funding levels for federal fiscal year 2017 (FY17) along with the requested proviso language would merely mitigate the severity of these local Title I allocation cuts...President Obama proposed a $450 million ‘increase’ for Title IA in FY17. We are deeply concerned that, for reasons outlined below, this amount is insufficient and will actually result in a projected cut of at least $200 million at the local level ([1]).  The proposal does not reflect an actual increase in the full context of statutory changes in ESSA related to program consolidation, state set aside, and the hold harmless provision. 

ESSA consolidates the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program into Title I. SIG was funded at $450 million in FY16, accounting for the full amount of the President’s proposed increase. More succinctly, these dollars are already in schools, and proposal is merely shifting the funding from SIG to Title I. 

The effective cuts to school districts come from a change in state set aside for school improvement. ESSA raises the state set aside from four to seven percent for school improvement and removes the Title I state set-aside hold harmless requirement for FY17. Under No Child Left Behind, the hold harmless provision ensured that local level allocations would not be reduced as a result of the state school improvement set-aside. States had to ensure level funding for school districts before taking the set aside, and recent funding realities created a scenario where the money that remained available for the state set aside was below four percent. Increasing the set aside to seven percent, in coordination with lifting the hold harmless, will create a funding vacuum, whereby dollars flow first to the state and then to the local level. The fiscal pressure of meeting the increased set aside under ESSA and backfilling funds for states that were operating with less than a four percent set-aside will result in significant cuts to local Title I programs. The Education Department’s Title I budget request at best would translate into a $200 million shortfall for local level allocations and at worst a significantly greater shortfall...

We strongly urge Congress to fund Title IA at a level $450 million above the President’s proposed level, an aggregate increase for school districts in their local level subgrant allocations for school year 2017-18, and ensure that no school district receives less Title I funding to implement the first year of ESSA."

Read the full letter.

Groups signing the letter include: 

 

  • AASA, The School Superintendents Association
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • Association of Educational Service Agencies
  • Association of School Business Officials International
  • Council of Great City Schools
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals
  • National Education Association
  • National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition
  • National Rural Education Association
  • National School Boards Association

 

February 22, 2016

(ESEA) Permanent link

Support AASA Nominations for ESSA Rulemaking Committee

The U.S. Department of Education is engaged in the early stages of the regulatory process related to implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act. The first round of regulation and rulemaking will engage current education practitioners and leaders, and USED is accepting nominations to fill out their roster. AASA is submitting two nominations to represent the nation’s public school superintendents and local system administrators in this very important process. AASA will ask that Dr. Gail Pletnick, Superintendent of Dysart Unified School District in Arizona and AASA President-Elect, and ASAA Executive Director Dan Domenech serve on the rulemaking body.

Please see the endorsing statements below that will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education to support Gail Pletnick and Dan Domenech’s nominations for the ESSA rulemaking committee and then complete the two short forms to endorse Dan and Gail.  

You can read Dan’s qualifications here and Gail’s qualifications here.

Endorsing Statement for Dan Domenech:  I support the nomination of Daniel A. Domenech to the US Department of Education's negotiated rulemaking committee, representing local administrators and local boards of education. Dr. Domenech has a proven track record in education, with a career spanning more than 40 years, 27  as an administrator. Dr. Domenech is well-equipped to represent the nation's public schools, whether urban or rural, small or large. His work experience enables him to relate directly to the topics under consideration in the committee, including assessment and the use of Title I funds. It is for these reasons, among others, that I endorse Daniel Domenech's nomination to the rulemaking committee.

To endorse Dan, please click here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1h9jV8bL7RQ3XClI2ieZquaGdxz2kjOfQ9pHn2ciJ4C0/viewform?c=0&w=1&usp=mail_form_link 

Endorsing Statement for Gail Pletnick: I support the nomination of Gail K. Pletnick to the US Department of Education's negotiated rulemaking committee, representing local administrators and local boards of education. Dr. Pletnick has a proven track record in education, with a career spanning more than 9 years as a superintendent and nearly 30 years as a school administrator. Dr. Pletnick has worked in public and private school settings and in both suburban and rural communities. Her federal education policy knowledge and work experience enables her to relate directly to the topics under consideration in the committee, including assessment and the use of Title I funds. It is for these reasons, among others, that I endorse Gail Pletnick's nomination to the rulemaking committee.

To endorse Gail, please click here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1tc5TumkSx4e7neopFZfKKdNVv6gc2f9jQEqO9TLtUE0/viewform?c=0&w=1&usp=mail_form_link

Thank you! 

 

 

February 10, 2016

(ESEA) Permanent link

Parents, Teachers, Principals, States and School Districts to Collaborate During ESSA Implementation

Today, AASA joined nine other national organizations representing states, school districts, educators and parents to announce our commitment to work together to ensure the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) accelerates student learning in every classroom. The groups will also work to make certain that congressional intent is honored throughout the implementation process.

In an attached letter to Acting U.S. Education Secretary John King, the organizations wrote: “Although our organizations do not always agree, we are unified in our belief that ESSA is a historic opportunity to make a world-class 21st century education system. We are dedicated to working together at the national level to facilitate partnership among our members in states and districts to guarantee the success of this new law.

The letter marks the beginning of a partnership, the State and Local ESSA Implementation Network, that will:  

 

  • Work together to ensure a timely, fair transition to ESSA; 
  • Coordinate ESSA implementation by governors, state superintendents, school boards, state legislators, local superintendents, educators and parents; 
  • Promote state, local and school decision-making during implementation; and
  • Collaborate with a broader group of education stakeholders to provide guidance to the federal government on key implementation issues.

 Organizations supporting the letter:

 

AASA: The School Superintendents Association | American Federation of Teachers | National Association of Elementary School Principals | National Association of Secondary School Principals | National Association of State Boards of Education | National Conference of State Legislatures | National Education Association | National Governors Association | National School Boards Association

February 4, 2016

(ESEA) Permanent link

USED Kicks Off ESSA Rulemaking Process

The Education Department (ED) has posted a notice of intention to establish a negotiated rulemaking (sometimes called "neg reg") committee to prepare proposed regulations in issues related to two topical areas: 1) assessments, and 2) supplement/not supplant, and it can be found here. The notice will be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, and that direct link is here

What will be covered in "neg reg"?

 

  • Prepare proposed regulations that would update existing assessment regulations to reflect changes to section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA, including:
    • Locally selected nationally recognized high school assessments, under section 1111(b)(2)(H);
    • The exception for advanced mathematics assessments in 8th grade, under section 1111(b)(2)(C);
    • Inclusion of students with disabilities in academic assessments, including alternate assessments based on alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, subject to a cap of 1.0% of students assessed for a subject;
    • Inclusion of English learners in academic assessments and English language proficiency assessments; and
    • Computer-adaptive assessments.
     
  • Prepare proposed regulations related to the requirement under section 1118(b) of the ESEA that title I, part A funds be used to supplement, and not supplant, nonfederal funds, specifically:
    • Regarding the methodology a local educational agency uses to allocate State and local funds to each title I school to ensure compliance with the supplement not supplant requirement; and
    • The timeline for compliance.
     

 

There will be two "neg reg" sessions, each in DC, scheduled for March 21-23 and April 6-8, 2016 There is an optional third session April 18-19.  In addition to The notice also requests nominations for individual negotiatorswho represent key stakeholder constituencies for the issues to be negotiated to serve on the committee. AASA will be submitting nominations and reaching out to members to support these nominations. AASA expressed its interest in being a neg reg participant in our earlier response to the Department's request for information (here). Should you be interested in submitting a nomination, or being nominated, please reach out to Noelle (nellerson at aasa.org). The deadline for submitting nominations is February 25th, 2016. 

January 28, 2016

(ESEA) Permanent link

Every Student Succeeds Act transition letter from US Department of Education

Today, the U.S. Department of Education sent a letter from Senior Advisor Ann Whalen to Chief State School Officers that addresses pressing questions concerning the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  Specifically, the letter articulates the flexibilities available to states in the 2016-2017 school year designed to ensure an orderly transition to the ESSA.  The letter is below for your reference.

For the latest information from USED on ESSA, visit www.ed.gov/essa.

 

Dear Colleague:

I appreciate the work you are doing to transition to the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which the President signed into law on December 10, 2015, and which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).  The ESSA provides an extraordinary opportunity to secure educational equity for all children. and I look forward to working closely with you and your team to ensure that this promise is realized.  Last month, I wrote to you about some of the most time sensitive transition questions for the 2015-2016 school year.  Today, I am writing to address some additional, pressing questions concerning the 2016-2017 school year.  Specifically, I would like to take this opportunity to articulate the flexibilities available to you in the 2016-2017 school year designed to ensure an orderly transition to the ESSA.

As the U.S. Department of Education (ED) continues to analyze the ESSA, we will provide additional information at www.ed.gov/essa.  Additionally, I encourage you to sign up to receive updates on ESSA transition guidance by clicking here.  Please also know that specific information about the School Improvement Grants program in fiscal years (FY) 2015 and 2016 will be provided in the coming weeks.

In General: Use of FY 2016 Formula Funds in the 2016-2017 School Year

Under the ESSA transition provisions, as clarified by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, FY 2016 formula grant funds will be awarded and administered in accordance with the ESEA as in effect on the day before the date of enactment of the ESSA (i.e., the requirements promulgated under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB)).  This means that ED formula grant allocations to States and local educational agencies (LEAs), as well as State subgrants allocated by formula to LEAs under ESEA formula grant programs, will be made in FY 2016, for the 2016-2017 school year, in the same manner and using the same allocation formulas as for the 2015-2016 school year.  It also means that, with the exceptions described below, formula grant recipients will continue to operate in the 2016-2017 school year under the plans, procedures, and requirements that are in place for the 2015-2016 school year. 

Exceptions: Ensuring an Orderly Transition to the ESSA in the 2016-2017 School Year 

Consistent with the transition provisions in the ESSA, including our authority to ensure an orderly transition to the ESSA, ED is and will endeavor to enable States, LEAs, and schools to focus resources on continuing and refining the activities that remain most relevant during the transition.  To this end, during the 2016-2017 school year, there are certain exceptions to the general rule, described above, regarding formula funds; these relate to school and LEA interventions and supports; interventions for English learners; and additional information regarding orderly transition from NCLB provisions that are not in the ESSA.  

 

  1. School Interventions and Supports in the 2016-2017 School Year
    • For States Operating Under ESEA Flexibility
      For States currently operating under ESEA flexibility, ESSA section 5(e)(2)(ii) requires that, in the 2016-2017 school year, a school that is identified as a priority or focus school in 2015-2016 must continue to implement interventions applicable to such school.  In my letter last month, dated December 18, 2015, I explained that, consistent with ESSA’s orderly transition provisions and in order to support States during this transition year, States have the option to choose between (1) freezing their existing priority and focus school lists as of December 10, 2015, for use in the 2016-2017 school year or (2) refreshing their lists by March 1, 2016.  Please refer to that letter for additional detail.  As described in that letter, each State with ESEA flexibility should inform ED, through an e-mail to its State e-mail address, OSS.[STATE]@ed.gov, by Friday, January 29, 2016, of which of the above options it has selected.

      In order to ensure that LEAs in States that are implementing ESEA flexibility in the 2015-2016 school year are able to comply with the ESSA transition requirement to continue to implement interventions applicable to priority and focus schools during the 2016-2017 school year, ED will not require those States or LEAs to comply with the requirements in the following sections of the ESEA if they impede a priority or focus school from being able to continue to implement appropriate interventions in 2016-2017: 1003(a), which requires an SEA to distribute at least 95 percent of the funds it reserves to LEAs for use in Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring; 1114(a)(1), which requires that a school have at least a 40 percent poverty rate to be eligible to operate a schoolwide program; 6213(b), which limits the amount of certain federal funds an LEA may transfer between programs; 6224(e), which requires an SEA to permit an LEA that fails to make adequate yearly progress to continue to receive a Small, Rural School Achievement grant only if the LEA uses funds to carry out ESEA section 1116; and 1113(a)(3)-(4) and (c)(1), which requires an LEA to rank and serve eligible schools according to poverty and allocate Title I funds to schools in rank order of poverty.  Again, this allowance under the orderly transition authority is consistent with the flexibility allowed under ESEA flexibility to enable States to support intervention in priority and focus schools.

    • For States Not Operating Under ESEA Flexibility
      For States not operating under ESEA flexibility in school year 2015-2016, ESSA section 5(e)(2)(i) requires a school or LEA that was identified in 2015-2016 by the State as in need of improvement, corrective action, or restructuring under ESEA as it existed prior to the enactment of ESSA (i.e., under NCLB) to continue to implement the same interventions in the 2016-2017 school year.  During the 2016-2017 school year, these States may, but are not required to, ensure that LEAs are providing supplemental educational services, public school choice and the related notice to parents for the 2016-2017 school year.  If these States choose not to require that their LEAs provide supplemental educational services and public school choice in the 2016-2017 school year, they must, in order to ensure an orderly transition to the ESSA, develop and implement a one-year transition plan for ensuring that their LEAs provide alternative supports for the students eligible for supplemental educational services and the schools with the greatest need (e.g., schools with large numbers or percentages of students eligible for supplemental educational services).  I am sending an additional letter with more information to the eight affected States in the coming days.

     
  2. LEA Interventions and Supports for English Learners in the 2016-2017 School Year
    In my letter on December 18, 2015, I explained that, in order to facilitate an orderly transition to the ESSA, States will not be required to hold LEAs accountable for their performance against Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives (AMAOs) 1, 2, and 3 under Title III of the ESEA, as reauthorized by NCLB, for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years.  Accordingly, States must freeze district accountability under Title III based on the most recent AMAO calculations, and continue to provide those LEAs with the corresponding supports and interventions in the remaining months of the 2015-2016 school year and the 2016-2017 school year.

  3. Additional Orderly Transition from NCLB Provisions Not in ESSA
    In addition to the AMAOs mentioned above and the annual measurable objectives (AMOs) mentioned in my letter of December 18, 2015, there are additional provisions of the ESEA, as reauthorized by NCLB, along with their implementing regulations, that States are not required to implement in the 2016-2017 school year in order to facilitate an orderly transition to the ESSA.  These provisions are as follows: section 1119, which requires all teachers of core academic subjects in the State to be “highly qualified”1,2; section 2141, which requires LEAs not making progress toward all teachers being “highly qualified” to create and implement an improvement plan and requires the State to provide technical assistance to such LEAs; and section 1117, which requires States to provide certain types of school supports and recognition.   

Please note that the State Plans to Ensure Equitable Access to Excellent Educators that States submitted in spring 2015 to address ESEA section 1111(b)(8)(C), which requires that States ensure that poor and minority children are not taught at higher rates than other children by inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of-field teachers, remain in effect for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years.

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to improving educational outcomes for all students.  I look forward to our continued partnership as we move ahead with this critical work. 

 

 

 

January 11, 2016

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AASA Statement on ESSA Implementation

Today, the U.S. Department of Education held the first of two public hearings on regulating the Every Student Succeeds Act. Education Week summarized the responses here. Speaking for AASA, Dan Domenech gave the following statement: 

"Good afternoon. I am Dan Domenech, Executive Director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association. AASA is the national professional organization representing the nation’s 10,000 public school superintendents. As I recently penned in a thank you note to the Congress members who led the effort to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) into the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): 

'I started at AASA in 2008, when Congress was just one year (in what would prove to be an 8 year effort) into ESEA reauthorization. Reauthorization has long been a priority of our members, who were focused on revising No Child Left Behind and delivering a comprehensive and updated piece of legislation that provided federal parameters while returning autonomy and authority to the state and local level. Our members prioritized an approach that preserved a federal focus on equity that strengths and supports—rather than prescribes and dictates to—our nation’s schools. In ESSA, Congress delivered both.'

AASA looks forward to working with the Department as you move forward with ESSA regulation. We appreciate the expediency with which the Department is undertaking the regulation process and strongly encourage the Department to move regulations that are in line with the spirit of the ESSA statute and that reflect the input and feedback of stakeholders. By focusing the federal role on strengthening and supporting public schools, and avoiding any tendency to unnecessarily prescribe and dictate, the Department can and must work to implement ESSA in a manner that reflects the expanded authority and flexibility now granted to the education experts at the state and local level.

ESSA makes clear Congress’ intent that states be solely responsible for the development and implementation of, and decisions regarding, all aspects of their State accountability systems.  Section 1111(e) clearly states the Secretary may not add any requirements or criteria outside the scope of this Act, and further says the Secretary may not take any action that would “be in excess of statutory authority given to the Secretary. This is an idea with broad bipartisan support, as the conference report itself writes, 'While it is the intent of the Conferees to allow the Secretary to issue regulations and guidance to clarify the intent and implement the law, Conferees intend to prohibit any such regulation that would create new requirements inconsistent with or outside the scope of the law.'

The Department kicked off the regulatory process with a pair of public hearings and a quick 30-day comment period on Title I regulations. Title I is where many of the onerous, punitive elements of NCLB originated. ESSA represents the first time in 15 years that state and local education agencies can demonstrate what they can do in the accountability and assessment arena absent federal overreach and prescription, while preserving student-sub group accountability and graduation rate data. AASA urges the Department to start its regulatory process by remembering that state and local educators are in the business of education to serve children, that they are professionals much better positioned to know the intricacies of local systems and implementation, and to practice restraint in designing their regulations to ensure that USED efforts do not overstep the intent of ESSA or move to recreate elements of the broken NCLB.

This is also an excellent opportunity for the Department to assume a leadership role in advocating for the transformative changes that technology and personalized learning can bring to education. By re-examining the rules and regulations that, for example, tie credit-bearing courses with seat time requirements, perpetuate the agrarian school calendar in the twenty-first century, and ignore competency based accountability systems in favor of standardized testing, USED can lead by empowering school districts to implement critical technology and personalized learning opportunities in flexible ways that best meet the needs of the schools and students they serve.

Thank you for convening this public hearing, and I appreciate the opportunity to share these comments today. We look forward to working with USED on, and ensuring the involvement of our nation’s public school superintendents in, the many facets of ESSA implementation. "

 

December 21, 2015(1)

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The Advocate: ESSA: That’s a Wrap, and We’re Five for Five

AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech pens a monthly article for the Executive Directors of our state affiliates. We periodically share them on the AASA blog, especially when they have a strong advocacy bend. The December 2015 edition details AASA's advocacy successes in the Every Student Succeeds Act.

You have no doubt heard that Congress passed—and the President signed into law—the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It is the first iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to reach the President’s desk since December 2001.

ESSA represents a significant improvement over current law. The legislation takes the pendulum of federal overreach and control, and returns it back to state and local education agencies. 

ESSA reauthorization was no small feat. The effort started (August 2007) shortly before I did at AASA (July 2008). It plodded along, like the Little Engine That Could, moving forward ever so slowly through Congress, and picked up with a particular vigor early this year. While the politics and momentum seemed against us, the effort persevered. And it is with a happy smile that I can write this post, and detail our advocacy efforts and victories. 

As a small sampling of our advocacy effort, I want to highlight what we featured in the letter we sent to the conference committee as they worked to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bills, and what the final ESSA included. You can read our priority position in the letter. I use the remainder of this article to detail the final verdict. 

 

  • Accountability: Despite repeated efforts to create AYP 2.0, the final version of ESSA does NOT include 100 percent proficiency, adequate yearly progress or annual measurable objectives. We had compromised and accepted the mandatory identification of and intervention in low performing schools, but drew a line at mandatory intervention based on sub-group performance targets. Unlike NCLB where subgroup accountability triggered labels of ‘failing’ and triggered intervention, ESSA requires states to establish and report on—but not structure as a trigger—subgroup targets. 
  • Portability: There are neither vouchers nor portability in ESSA. As we like to say at AASA, “Public dollars. Public schools. Hard stop.” And, “When the question is vouchers, the answer is no.” 
  • Expanded Data Collection: The final Title I reporting includes a reasonable compromise between the House and Senate versions. We were able to push back on the expanded Title IX collection to the extent that NONE of it made it into the final ESSA. 
  • Title I Formula: While the formula change we pushed through did not make it in the bill, we did get legislative language requiring Congress to evaluate the existing four Title I formulas, the role of number and percentage weighting, how those weights impact small/large/urban/rural schools, and how the current formulas address/exacerbate the inequitable allocation of dollars in a way that allows larger, less poor districts to receive more Title I money, per pupil, than smaller, poorer schools. 
  • Alternate Assessment: ESSA includes a state-level participation cap (1 percent) with language to explicitly forbid the secretary or state to translate the state level cap into a local cap. IEP teams are free to determine alternate assessment as driven by IDEA, without fear of repercussion. Should a state breach its 1 percent cap, it can pursue a waiver. 

As you can see, our advocacy efforts proved fruitful but our work, is far from over. We are now moving full steam ahead with efforts to support ESSA implementation. With expanded authority and flexibility comes increased responsibility. We look forward to supporting our state affiliates and members, and position them as the go-to leader. 

 

December 14, 2015(1)

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ESSA Presentation, With Audio

AASA's Associate Executive Director, Policy & Advocacy, Noelle Ellerson presented on ESSA at the annual conference for AESA. At the request of the members, those slides are available with an audio narrative.. The presentation is 44 minutes long.

Powerpoint presentation, only (no audio)

Full recording (slides and audio):

December 8, 2015

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UPDATED: Senate Prepares to Vote on ESSA, AASA Letter of Support

UPDATED: The Senate voted on cloture (ending debate and moving forward on a final vote) for ESSA. The vote will be at 10:45 on Wednesday December 9. The cloture vote was 84-12. Here is a list of the no votes (all Republican): Senators Ted Cruz (TX), Lee (UT), Paul (KY), Sasse (NE), Vitter (LA), Crapo (ID), Moran (KS), Shelby (AL), Blunt (MO), Scott (SC), Daines (MT), and Risch (ID).

Following up on last week's House action to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the Senate is set to vote--likely today--on the bill, which would then proceed to the President's desk to become law.

Read AASA's letter of endorsement.

The Association of Educational Service Agencies, National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition and National Rural Education Association issued their own endorsement letter, calling attention to specific provisions in the bill that address the unique opportunities and obstacles facing rural schools. 

December 1, 2015(1)

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AASA ESSA Call to Action

Congress is poised to vote on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as early as Wednesday, December 2. As such, AASA is issuing this call to action to ensure that members of Congress have the voice of school superintendents on record. For further information, you can read AASA’s ESSA overview  or endorsing statement.

CALL TO ACTION: When it comes to advocacy on this proposal and the related legislation, we subscribe to ‘better safe than sorry’. We strongly encourage you to reach out to the entirety of your Congressional delegation (your Representative and both Senators) to urge them to support the conference proposal to reauthorize ESEA. Top-line talking points are embedded below, and we can share a Congressional Directory with email addresses for the education staffer in each office as well as phone numbers. When it comes time for the final rush, it is important to email not only the education staffer (they are the ones who inform the boss of the policy) but also to call the front desk (the interns are inundated with calls and are merely tallying Yes and No). 

WHAT TO DO

 

  • Contact each of your Congressional offices. Urge them to support ESEA reauthorization. You can use the Congressional Directory shared by AASA or find your member of Congress here: http://aasa.org/legislative-action-center/# (Scroll to “Find Your Elected Officials”) 
  • Talking Points: You can craft your own talking points or a summary of the proposal based on AASA ESSA overview memo. You can also refer to some of these more general talking points: 
    • Reauthorization is crucial to providing the nation’s schools with relief from current law, which is both broken and lacking in the flexibility states and local school districts need to support student learning and achievement .
    • This proposal is a strong step in the right direction because it restores a more proper balance between federal, state and local government in public education. 
    • This framework takes the pendulum of federal overreach and prescription and places it more squarely in the area of state and local expertise and autonomy. 
    • This effort recognizes the importance of empowering state and local leaders to use their professional knowledge and proximal location to make the decisions necessary to successfully adhere to their educational missions. 
    • This is not a perfect bill, but it gets far more right than it gets wrong, and our nation’s schools and students deserve a complete reauthorization and to be free from the limited, conditional nature of ESEA waivers.   
    • We are hopeful that the federal government is now prepared to take the next steps based on our experience with the current ESEA to restore more authority (or shared authority) to local government. 
    • We are encouraged to see proposed needed changes to ESEA.  We are prepared to build upon the original intent of the ESEA authorization while reducing the excessive testing and mandates that have limited the creative local solutions to improving student achievement. 
    • We encourage our legislators to take the necessary steps advocated in the recent proposed re-authorization language for ESEA. 
     

Stay tuned to the Blog! We will have additional talking points and sample social media items. AASA’s The Leading Edge (www.aasa.org/aasablog.aspx)  

 

December 1, 2015

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AASA Overview of the Every Student Succeeds Act

Late last month, AASA’s Policy & Advocacy team shared a summary of the framework and preliminary call to action related to the proposal to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). In the two weeks that have since passed, Congress has released the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) a bipartisan, bicameral proposal to reauthorize ESEA that reconciles the differences between the House and Senate proposals voted on earlier this summer.

We are pleased to report that the summary of the framework was overwhelmingly accurate in its depiction of what would be in the actual bill. This memo is an overview of the legislation and is designed to both inform you and support any outreach you may do to your Congressional delegation as both the House and Senate are expected to consider ESSA before adjourning in the middle of the month. Do not be fooled by the similarity in format to the previous memo. While there is a lot of the same information, there is enough new information (including further detail and clarification) to warrant a complete read of the memo. 

TOPLINE: ESSA is a significant improvement over current law. It takes the pendulum of federal overreach and prescription—rampant in current law—and returns autonomy and flexibility to the state/local level/ With this flexibility comes great responsibility, as state and local education agencies will have a much more explicit say in the structure—and ultimate success—of their accountability workbooks. ESSA is the epitome of compromise, reconciling differences between the very partisan (Republican) House bill and the bi-partisan Senate bill. In reconciling those differences, a very basic way to look at this framework is as ‘somewhere in between a very conservative House bill and the moderate Senate compromise’. As AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech said in his press release about the framework, “We applaud Congressional leaders for moving such a bipartisan framework. One of the biggest benchmarks of bipartisan legislation may be when everyone is a little unhappy, because nobody got everything they wanted. By that metric alone, this framework lays a solid foundation for a successful conference process.”  

AASA has endorsed ESSA, which you can read about in our endorsing statement. Domenech addressed the critical balance in ESSA, “The federal government has a very critical role to play in federal education policy, and that is to support and strengthen—not dictate and prescribe to—our nation’s public schools. ESSA is the embodiment of this very policy, preserving very important federal policy cornerstones like equity, accountability, standards and assessments, but doing so in a way that empowers state and local education leaders to more effectively operate the systems for which they are responsible.” EdWeek did a great write up on how various groups are responding to ESSA, and cited AASA Past President David Pennington (Ponca City Schools, OK). 

Timeline and Next Steps: The House of Representatives could vote as early as this Wednesday, and the Senate could vote as early as next week. This sets up the possibility of President Obama signing the bill into law before the end of 2015.  “Next steps” are outlined in the AASA call to action, available here

You can read the full ESSA analaysis and overview here.

November 30, 2015

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AASA Endorses Every Student Succeeds Act

Earlier today, Congress released the Every Student Succeeds Act, the conferenced bill to reauthorize ESEA, reconciling the differences between the House and Senate versions from this summer. AASA is pleased to endorse the bill and sent a letter of support to the hill today. Here is the press release detailing our support:

AASA, The School Superintendents Association, strongly endorses the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Representing the nation’s more than 13,000 school system leaders, AASA has been deeply engaged in efforts to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). AASA is pleased to see Congress advance such a comprehensive, bipartisan piece of legislation that focuses on policies that support and strengthen our nation’s schools and the students they serve.

As the sole organization to oppose No Child Left Behind from the beginning, AASA has long endorsed an approach to federal education policy that takes the pendulum of federal overreach and prescription and returns it to state and local control. ESSA strikes a very appropriate balance of power between the federal, state and local levels.

The federal government has a very critical role to play in federal education policy, and that is to support and strengthen—not dictate and prescribe to—our nation’s public schools,” said AASA Executive Director Daniel A. Domenech. “ESSA is the embodiment of this very policy, preserving very important federal policy cornerstones like equity, accountability, standards and assessments, but doing so in a way that empowers state and local education leaders to more effectively operate the systems for which they are responsible.”

ESSA is a significant improvement over current law. “In sharing bill text of ESSA, Congress demonstrated its commitment to seeing ESEA reauthorization to completion. This legislation builds on 8 years of momentum, and carries forward the very strong bipartisan sentiment of more recent efforts,” said David Schuler, AASA president. “Our nation’s schools and the students they serve want and deserve more than the broken, outdated remnants of No Child Left Behind. It is imperative Congress not only pass ESSA, but do so in an expedient manner and deliver this bill to the President’s desk before the New Year.”

November 24, 2015

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Even More ESEA!

In addition to the summary from last week and updated in a blog post this morning, here’s what you need to know about what happened in ESEA Land last week, and what to expect moving forward.

 

  • First, please note there were clarifications re: SIG and ed tech funding in the memo. The memo was updated to reflect that the state set aside in Title I (when SIG and Title I are consolidated) is 7%, a sum of the current 4% set aside and the approx. amount of the SIG allocation. Also, the memo is updated to reflect that the cap on education technology device purchases within the Title IV block grant is 15%, not 5% (typo, apologies).
  • The highly qualified teacher (HQT) provisions are eliminated.
  • You can access the AASA summary here. You can also access a handy run down of the programs included with in the ESEA framework and their authorized funding levels.
  • The conference committee met on Wednesday and Thursday of last week, before voting to move forward with the conference report. Legislative language for the bill, called Every Student Achieves Act (ESSA) will be available Nov. 30. There is a leaked version currently available (here) and that is a good place to start in terms of reviewing the bill.
  • The Conference Committee considered nine amendments. Seven were adopted and two were rejected. AASA had weighed in on the amendments (read our conference committee letter) and the two we supported were adopted.
  • Rep Thompson Title I Study Amendment – Rep Thompson (PA) is the long-time champion of the Title I formula rewrite on the House side. His complete rewrite was filed and not offered, and instead, he advanced this study, which would require the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Director to complete a study of the effectiveness of the formulas and weighting of formulas under Title I within 18 months. The goal of the report is to provide information on if funds are going to the neediest students, and evaluating the efficacy and equity within number and concentration weighting.
  • Sen Mike Enzi Early Childhood Amendment – The amendment would require a review and report to Congress within two years from enactment on possible elimination, overlap, and duplication of early childhood programs.
  • Other Adopted Amendments:
    • Rep Bonamici STEM Amendment – To expand the list of allowable activities under Title IV, including allowing an integration of STEM and the arts and support for other interdisciplinary programs.
    • Sen Bennet Overtesting Amendment – To allow states to place a target cap on the amount of time spent on testing. It is important to note that this is permitted, but not required.  
    • Rep Messer Title II Amendment – To allow Title II funds to be used in support of educating teachers in the use of student data.
    • Rep Wilson DropOut Amendment – To help schools improve dropout and prevention programs by creating an additional use of Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) funds to provide schools funding for dropout prevention.
    • Rep. Polis ELL Amendment – To add an allowable use of Title III funds to provide dual enrollment and concurrent enrollment opportunities for English Language Learner (ELL) students to take college courses or earn an associate's degree. 
     

 

November 23, 2015

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ESEA Reauthorization: Summary of Conference Framework and Call to Action

This blog post is longer than usual and is two-fold: The first half details what we know about the framework and the second half is a call to action. At this point, the proposal is something that AASA would endorse, should the outline mirror what is in the statute. The call to action is designed to support your advocacy—your outreach to your entire Congressional delegation—as a way to educate them on the importance of supporting an ESEA reauthorization and why this proposal is a very strong starting point.

You can access a printable version of this summary here. (WORD)

AASA has worked with hill staff, reporters and advocates to piece together what we know about what is (and isn’t!) in the proposal. The summary here within is subject to change, given that this is based on conversations and summaries, and there is not yet an actual bill. 

TOPLINE: This conference framework is an improvement over current law. It takes the pendulum of federal overreach and prescription—rampant in current law—and returns autonomy and flexibility to the state/local level/ With this flexibility comes great responsibility, as state and local education agencies will have a much more explicit say in the structure—and ultimate success—of their accountability workbooks. The framework represents a compromise between the very partisan (Republican) House bill and the bi-partisan Senate bill. IN reconciling those differences, a very basic way to look at this framework is as ‘somewhere in between a very conservative House bill and the moderate Senate compromise’. As AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech said in his press release about the framework, “We applaud Congressional leaders for moving such a bipartisan framework. One of the biggest benchmarks of bipartisan legislation may be when everyone is a little unhappy, because nobody got everything they wanted. By that metric alone, this framework lays a solid foundation for a successful conference process.” 

DETAILS:  

 

  • Assessment: The framework maintains annual assessment, meaning testing every child in grades 3-8 in math and ELA each year and once in high school, and three assessments in science (one per grade span). 
  • Standards: You have to high standards. The state and locals make a decision. There is no federal role or incentivization for a specific set of standards. The state can choose Common Core, can use Common Core but call it ‘UnCommon Core’, can acquire another set of generated standards or can work to make their own standards.  
  • Accountability: This is where a lot of the ‘whittling back’  of federal overreach can be found: 
    • These plans would go into effect for the 17-18 school year. The 15-16 school year would be the last year states and LEAs would have to submit data as currently required. This means that the 16-17 year could serve as a soft/trial run for all or pieces of the new/proposed state accountability workbook. 
    • States must continue to disaggregate data by student sub group and must continue to calculate graduation rates using the adjusted cohort graduate rate as established in the 2008 regulations. 
    • There are two additional buckets in accountability that will trigger action:
      • States must identify and intervene in schools in the bottom 5% and in high schools that graduate less than 67% of their students. States will generate this list every three years, and states will establish the exit criteria (meaning if you can improve student learning/achievement in one year, you could—if the state structures it this way—be off the list in one year, rather than being stuck there for three). 
      • States must include provisions related to intervention in consistently underperforming schools. For LEAs in this bucket, as determined by the state the LEA will come up with a plan for improvement. The state will determine the number of years an LEA with this designation can go without showing improvement, and then the state will require additional supports/intervention. There are NO prescribed turn around models; states and LEAs determine those options/combinations. 
       
    • The state accountability plan must include sub-group performance targets. This is NOT annual measurable objectives in that the data on these targets is merely reported; it triggers no action. That is, a school that struggles to meet these targets will NOT trigger intervention. These targets will be long-term and interim, and must include targets for graduation rates, reading and math scores and English Language proficiency for English Language Learners.  
    • The accountability construct empowers state and local education agencies to shape their accountability workbooks in a way that diminishes continued overreliance on high-stakes, one-time standardized testing. In designing an accountability workbook, academic factors must represent more than half (at least 51%)  of all indicators, meaning that up to 49% of the accountability construct can be focused on whole-child and other critical, non-academic, indicators.  
     
  • Title I:  
    • School Improvement Grants are consolidated into Title I. The funds previously available under SIG will flow through the regular Title I formula. There will be a set-aside of approx. 7%, representing the current 4% set aside for school improvement under Title I PLUS the state's SIG amount. States must move at least 95% of that 7% to schools for innovation. States can choose whether to allocate these innovation dollars through competition or formula.  
    • Portability IS OUT. 
      • The framework does include a weighted student formula for Title I. This proposal will allow an LEA to aggregate its state and local dollars with its federal dollars (From Titles I-IV) This pilot program will apply to 50 LEAs, who can use these pooled dollars and design their own allocation formula in a manner that allows them to better target dollars to the neediest schools. This is NOT portability. This pilot will NOT change allocations at the state or district level. Rather, it allows districts greater authority over where the dollars flow in their schools. There is a requirement LEAs participating in this pilot demonstrate that needy schools receive at least as much under the weighted formula as they did before the pilot. 
      • We anticipate Republicans will tout this as ‘backpack funding’ or portability. While this is an increase in local control of spending, it is at the district level. True portability would have the money follow the child to the school of their choice regardless of actual need or levels of concentration, and the placement of that child would be determined by the family. In this pilot, the LEA is the entity allocating the dollars and will factor in concentrations of poverty with the added caveat of ensuring that the neediest schools don’t see an exodus of funding. This is in stark contrast to actual portability, where dollars would be diluted to a per-pupil level and allocated blindly to the schools based on enrollment, not concentration of poverty.  
       
    • Maintenance of Effort is IN. The House bill had eliminated this critical element and we are pleased to see that state and local education agencies will continue to have to invest at least 90% of what they did the year before in order to receive federal dollars. 
    • The Title I formula will be unchanged. Both the House and Senate proposals included formula rewrites, neither of which made it through. This means that Title I dollars will continue to be allocated in a manner that allows larger, but less poor, districts to receive a higher allocation of Title I dollars per child than their actual concentration of poverty would indicate. That said, we are OK with the status quo because we had reservations about what a compromised formula rewrite would look like. 
      • We are fairly confident the bill will include a requirement for Congress to do a study of the Title I formula, taking a very critical look at the issue of number and percentage weighting, and its impact on small, large, urban and rural schools. This is the exact research we have been advocating with in our efforts on the Title I formula and we are pleased to see formal movement by Congress. 
      • Precedent in ESEA reauthorization would include an update of the quintiles in the Title I formula. The quintiles are the enrollment ‘buckets’, where each threshold represents approximately 20% of the nation’s students. We had deep reservations about updating the quintiles without reworking the formula, because the threshold for the upper bound would have fallen by 10,000, meaning that more larger (bot not necessarily poorer!) districts could max out under number weighting, further exacerbating the impact of inequitably allocating dollars away from smaller, poorer schools. No update of the quintiles reinforces the pressure to accurately address the very real, but unintended, consequences of the current formula. 
       
    • Rural Education
    • AASA helped pen the original Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) in 2001, and we are pleased to see that the changes we have long advocated are reflected in this bill. In a reauthorization that consolidated and eliminated many programs, it is wonderful to see REAP remain as a stand-alone program.  
    • The US Education Department will have to do a study to evaluate how they are <not> serving rural schools. 
    • Also, Rural School Consolidated Grant Applications are in, meaning that small, rural schools can coordinate to submit consolidated applications. This may be through their local education service agency.  
     
  • Funding Caps: The bill includes funding caps, though those numbers are written to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which would be there is room for small increases in the years of this authorization. This authorization is for four years.
  • Early Education: ESEA will now include an early education component. This will be administered jointly through the Health/Human Services Department and US Education Department, with HHS acting as the fiscal agent. This program is in addition to Head Start and Child Care Development Bloc Grants. 
  • Alternate Assessment: AASA’s preferred position was no cap on alternate assessments. That is, we think that the local IEP team is best positioned to determine which students qualify for/need an alternate assessment. We are pleased with the compromise in the framework. Alternate assessments will be capped at 1% at the STATE level. Local IEP teams will work to make their determinations as driven by IDEA. There are explicit prohibitions on both the Secretary and the state from forcing a local cap (as in current practice). LEAs will have an alternate assessment rate determined by need and the state is responsible for monitoring LEAs individually to determine the overall state level. Should a state find it has an alternate assessment rate above 1%, the state can pursue a waiver.  
  • Student Privacy: FERPA is out. The proposed commission to analyze/study student data and privacy is also out. That is, no student data/privacy reauthorization reference in this bill. 
  • School Climate: Programs in Title IV are consolidated into a bloc grant. This bloc grant will be formula to state and formula to local. LEAs must use at least 20% of this allocation for well-rounded education and at least 20% for safe/healthy programming.  Technology is an allowable use in this title. Spending on technology devises/equipment/software would be capped at 15%, but LEAs could use up to 60% of their grant under this program for technology-related activities, including  training teachers to use technology, blended learning, personalized learning, buying content, etc. 
  • Foster Care: Foster care provisions are what was included in the Senate bill, which in my understanding is that any additional transportation costs to be incurred would be assumed by the LEA only if they were being reimbursed by the child welfare agency, agreed to share the costs with child welfare or if the district decided to cover those costs.  
  • Expanded Data Collection Under Title IX (Gender Equity): Eliminated. 
  • Title II Formula: The Title II formula WILL be revamped. It uses the Senate-adopted version, with tweaks to  change the poverty population to a sliding scale, and to include the ramp down/hold harmless.  
  • Background Checks: The framework includes language related to the unfavorable practice of ‘pass the trash’ but stops short of the high level of prescription and redundancy with current state/local practice that had been considered. This is language we are ok with. 
  • Comparability: Maintained current law (We were opposed to a proposal to include teacher salary in the calculation).  

CALL TO ACTION: When it comes to advocacy on this proposal and the related legislation, we subscribe to ‘better safe than sorry’. We strongly encourage you to reach out to the entirety of your Congressional delegation (your Representative and both Senators) to urge them to support the conference proposal to reauthorize ESEA. Top-line talking points are embedded below, and we can share a Congressional Directory with email addresses for the education staffer in each office as well as phone numbers. When it comes time for the final rush, it is important to email not only the education staffer (they are the ones who inform the boss of the policy) but also to call the front desk (the interns are inundated with calls and are merely tallying Yes and No). 

You can see, based on a quick review of our conference letter alone, that this proposed framework includes many AASA priorities. This proposal is a significant improvement over current law and we are comfortable with supporting it moving forward and anticipate that we will be in a position to support the legislation, pending final review (The devil is always in the detail). 

 

  • WHAT TO DO
    • Contact each of your Congressional offices. Urge them to support ESEA reauthorization. You can use the Congressional Directory shared by AASA or find your member of Congress here: http://aasa.org/legislative-action-center/# (Scroll to “Find Your Elected Officials”) 
    • Talking Points: You can craft your own talking points or a summary of the proposal based on the content in this memo. You can also refer to some of these more general talking points: 
      • Reauthorization is crucial to providing the nation’s schools with relief from current law, which is both broken and lacking in the flexibility states and local school districts need to support student learning and achievement 
      • This proposal is a strong step in the right direction because it restores a more proper balance between federal, state and local government in public education. 
      • This framework takes the pendulum of federal overreach and prescription and places it more squarely in the area of state and local expertise and autonomy. 
      • This effort recognizes the importance of empowering state and local leaders to use their professional knowledge and proximal location to make the decisions necessary to successfully adhere to their educational missions. 
      • This is not a perfect bill, but it gets far more right than it gets wrong, and our nation’s schools and students deserve a complete reauthorization and to be free from the limited, conditional nature of ESEA waivers.   
       
     

 

 

October 29, 2015

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Tweeting on Federal Education Policy

Today's blog entry comes from AASA's Deanna Atkins, online technologies and advocacy specialist, the newest member of the AASA advocacy team.

Policy influencers, EPFP alumni and educators tuned in to EPFP’s Twitter chat on federal education policy on Tues., Oct. 27. The conversation was led by EPFP alumni Noelle Ellerson, associate executive director, policy & advocacy, AASA, The School Superintendents Association and Mary Kingston Roche, director, public policy, Coalition of Community Schools, IE, and additional tweeters chimed in during the discussion from a variety of organizations using the hashtag, #epfpchat.

Questions were based around ESEA reauthorization, education funding and the 2016 presidential campaign season, which made for an exciting and extremely important conversation detailing what House Speaker John Boehner's departure means for ESEA reauthorization; why Education Secretary Arne Duncan's departure is less consequential when it comes to ESEA reauthorization; what the next big federal education policy topic will be after ESEA; why education issues have a limited role in the presidential debates; and more.

If you missed the Twitter chat, you can view the archived conversation here and check out highlights from the discussion below. Should you have any further questions, please contact Noelle Ellerson.

September 30, 2015

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AASA Letter on ESEA Conference Priorities

Congress is back in session and working full tilt on avoiding a government shutdown. Beyond that, there is still strong momentum for completing ESEA reauthorization this fall. AASA is fully supportive of ESEA reauthorization and is engaged with hill staff on both sides of the hill and both sides of the aisle to reiterate our position of support and our priorities within conference.

Today, AASA sent its conference letter to the announced conferees (Senators Alexander and Murray and Representatives Kline and Scott).  The letter focuses on five specific priority areas and makes recommendations for (in)action: portability, accountability, expanded data collection, Title I formula and alternate assessment.

Earlier in the week, AASA reconvened with nine other national education organizations to send a joint ESEA conference letter urging Congress to advance a bipartisan ESEA reauthorization to the President's desk this fall. Read a related news article. Join AASA on the letter:

  • American Federation of Teachers
  • National Education Association
  • Association of School Business Officials International
  • Council of Chief State School Officers
  • National PTA
  • National Association of State Boards of Education
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals 
  • National School Board Association
 

September 20, 2015

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AASA and ASBO ESEA Memo on Potential Consequences of Title I Portability

Today, AASA and our friends at ASBO, released a memo addressed to the Conference Committee focused on ESEA reauthorization detailing the potential effects of the inclusion of Title I portability provisions found in the House ESEA bill on Title I programs. Specifically, we asked our respective memberships to explain how a requirement to make Title I dollars "follow a child" within a state or school system could impact five aspects of district Title I programs: planning, hiring and retention, administration, and the quality and equitable distribution of funds to students in the district. The memo can be accessed here