While the Senate followed the House’s lead and voted to overturn the accountability regulations under ESSA, reform advocates are continuing their work to support ESSA engagement and implementation at the state level. We are currently gathering advice from PIE Network federal-facing partners on how states and advocates can leverage the statute—even without the regulations. Meanwhile, partners and leaders are reacting to the recent congressional action.
The Education Trust issued a statement, calling the Senate’s actions misguided and cautioned that this could waste time that vulnerable students can’t afford to lose: “But despite Congress’ action, equity-minded state advocates are more than ready to continue the fight to ensure the law is implemented in a way that will advance opportunity and achievement for low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities, and English learners.”
Educators for Excellence, a national teacher-led organization, shared that while they were disheartened by the vote, they were hopeful state chiefs will uphold the spirit of the law by maintaining strong accountability systems: “Our more than 25,000 members – and countless more educators across the nation – share two clear priorities: ensuring all students have equal access to high-quality schools, principals, and teachers, and elevating the teacher profession. Congress’ rollback of key ESSA accountability measures work against those two goals,” said Evan Stone, co-founder and co-Chief Executive Officer.
Patricia Levesque, CEO of the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) reminded state leaders that their work should move forward, “Although Congress has overturned the accountability regulations …the ESSA statute and its requirements remain in place. ExcelinEd continues to encourage and assist states in developing strong plans that take advantage of the flexibility under ESSA to adopt innovative approaches to accountability for all students and student subgroups.”
Dale Chu, Vice President of Policy and Operations at America Succeeds, shared a reminder that ESSA lays out the minimum requirements for state accountability and states could adopt a much stronger and rigorous framework than is laid out in the law.
The National Governors Association issued a set of frequently asked questions designed to help governors and state policymakers continue their work on state plans. The document urges governors to press forward and look to the law, “Regardless of federal regulation, accountability was always in the hands of states. The absence of an accountability regulation does not mean that states must change course…ESSA was carefully negotiated and the detailed nature of the statute can stand alone in the absence of regulation.”
The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) issued a similar statement saying that ESSA still provides a long-term, stable federal policy, giving states flexibility to innovate. “States are creating good plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act, with or without regulations,” said Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO. “Despite the back and forth in DC, states are focused on creating plans that are best for the kids in their state.”
Next week, PIE Network federal-facing partners weigh in with their advice for state advocates on how to leverage ESSA, even without the regulations.