Trump Era


Education in the Trump Era

The election of Republican Donald Trump as president, coupled with the GOP's success in retaining control of Congress for two more years, appears likely to reshape federal education policy in significant ways, from preschool to college. Already, Republican lawmakers have moved to repeal key Obama administration regulations on school accountability and teacher preparation. The Trump administration made waves by backing away from Obama-era guidance for schools on bathroom access for transgender students.

The election of Republican Donald Trump as president, coupled with the GOP’s success in retaining control of Congress for two more years, appears likely to reshape federal education policy in significant ways, from preschool to college. Already, Republican lawmakers have moved to repeal key Obama administration regulations on school accountability and teacher preparation. The Trump administration made waves by backing away from Obama-era guidance for schools on bathroom access for transgender students. And early signals suggest expanding school choice will be the president’s top educational priority, one that could find favor among GOP lawmakers.

Even before the 2016 election, the bipartisan rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act handed states and localities significantly greater control over school accountability and other aspects of education. In 2017, all states are revamping their accountability systems, which must be approved by the U.S. Department of Education now led by Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Beyond the K-12 level, Congress is overdue in reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. And the Trump administration is widely expected to pivot away from Obama priorities such as Title IX enforcement on sexual assault and increased oversight of for-profit colleges. Other issues that may gain favor include new strategies to pay for college, such as “risk sharing” arrangements, as well as competency-based education and more skills training at community colleges.

Meanwhile, the 2016 elections didn’t just shake up things in Washington. Republicans made further inroads in states, particularly notable given the push to give states and localities greater power over education. Currently, the governors of 33 states are Republican, while just 16 are Democrats and one is Independent. Republicans have what Ballotpedia calls a “trifecta” in 25 states (compared with six for Democrats), where the party controls the governorship and both legislative chambers.

Furthermore, there are plenty of fresh faces in key state positions of power that influence education policy. As Education Week recently noted, half the nation’s state legislatures have at least one new education chairman in 2017, and one-quarter of state superintendents are less than one year into the job.

Key Coverage

Your One-Stop Shop for ESSA Info on Teachers, Testing, Money, and More

For teachers, parents, principals, and others, the Every Student Succeeds Act is no longer on the horizon. Now it’s in their schools.

Yes, ESSA has officially taken effect this school year. All but four states have turned in their plans for the education law’s implementation to the federal government—and some states’ plans have already gotten approved by the U.S. Department of Education. But there’s a decent chance you’re still gathering information and learning about ESSA.

Latest News

Mainstream News Outlets Still Not Seeing National Story in ESSA

There’s a problem in education journalism right now. It’s not entirely new, and it’s not exactly a crisis. But it’s persistent enough that it needs to be addressed: Mainstream news outlets are producing way too much coverage of low-hanging education stories that generate outrage (and page views) but don’t provide perspective or depth.

The most immediate example of an often overlooked but nonetheless vital story is ESSA, the Every Student Succeeds Act passed by Congress in December 2015.

Latest News

Florida Submits Its Every Student Succeeds Act Plan

After months of planning and feedback, the Florida Department of Education submitted its federal Every Student Succeeds Act accountability plan on Wednesday.

Originally, the department had intended to request waivers relating to percentages of students tested, assessment exemptions for English learners and the use of demographic subgroups to differentiate accountability.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Congress Ramps Up Efforts to Address Child-Care Costs

Action on Capitol Hill to address early childhood care and education is heating up, with key deadlines looming and critical legislation pending.

Last week, Democrats in the House and Senate introduced an ambitious child-care plan, while a House panel approved a bill to extend a popular federal home visiting program that seeks to help low-income families raise healthy children. That program, currently funded at $400 million, is set to expire unless Congress acts by the end of the month.

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Rivalries, Political Infighting Marked States’ ESSA Planning

The grinding, two-year process of drafting accountability plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act has upended states’ K-12 political landscape and laid bare long-simmering factions among power brokers charged with putting the new federal education law into effect this school year.

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Gov. Hogan Refuses to Sign Off on Maryland Education Plan

Gov. Larry Hogan is refusing to endorse the Maryland school board’s plan for helping low-performing schools, saying state board members were hamstrung by a new law limiting what the plan can include.

The General Assembly passed legislation this year that limits ways the state can try to reform its lowest-performing schools — those in the bottom 5 percent. The Republican governor vetoed that bill, but the Democratic-controlled legislature overrode him.

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Nebraska Sends Betsy DeVos Its Every Student Succeeds Act Plan

With the dust settled on Betsy DeVos’ visit, Nebraska Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt wants something from the U.S. education secretary: her autograph.

DeVos must sign off on Nebraska’s newly minted plan for implementing the new federal education law known as the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Key Coverage

On State Accountability Plans, Another Test for Betsy DeVos

Monday marks the final deadline by which nearly all states must have submitted a K-12 accountability plan to the U.S. Department of Education, marking a pivotal – if not yet final – step in how schools will operate under the new federal education law.

The Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, gives states new flexibility to create accountability systems that suit their unique needs. Those plans must be vetted and cleared by the Department of Education before states begin implementing them in the near future.

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State Superintendent Says Plan Aims at Reaching All Students in Need

State officials in Washington are proposing a plan they say will help every child succeed.

State Superintendent Chris Reykdal visited Marie Curie STEM Elementary School in Pasco to announce the submission of the state’s plan to meet the requirements set out in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

The law, which replaces the No Child Left Behind Act, requires each state to develop a plan showing how they will spend federal dollars. The Department of Education has 120 days to comment on the plan before making a decision about it.

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Iowa Sends Every Student Succeeds Act Plan to U.S. Department of Education

Iowa officials submitted their plan to meet new education standards under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act to the U.S. Department of Education on Monday.

The Every Student Succeeds Act replaced the No Child Left Behind policy and was signed by President Barack Obama in 2015. In Iowa, it is intended to be fully implemented by Fall 2018.

The legislation maintains some of No Child Left Behind’s focus on school accountability, though not its sanctions against underperforming schools, and gives states more control over how schools are assessed and monitored.

Key Coverage

Testing Remains Key Part of Georgia’s Education Plan

Georgia hopes to embark on a new education plan that shifts away from the tough test-and-punish regime of the past that some say was unrealistic and unfair but others say held schools accountable for all students, including their worst performers.

On Monday, the state will submit its plan for compliance with the latest updates to the federal education law, known as the No Child Left Behind Act under President Georgia Bush and now as the Every Student Succeeds Act, after it was amended with bipartisan support under President Barack Obama more than a year ago.

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Vermont Test Scores Slide

When Michael Hock learned how Vermont students scored on the statewide standardized test this year, even he was surprised — and he’s the director of assessment at the Vermont Agency of Education.

The results from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium tests, taken by all Vermont public school students in grades three through eight and grade 11 in English language arts and math, show a decline in student performance from the 2015-2016 school year. 

Key Coverage

Wisconsin’s ESSA Plan Puts Power at Local Level

The task of turning around failing public schools would fall to local school boards and communities, rather than outside operators or state-mandated recovery districts, under Wisconsin’s plan to comply with the new federal education law, which was made public Monday.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers filed the plan with the U.S. Department of Education on Monday, just days after Gov. Scott Walker announced he would not sign it because it did not include some of the more aggressive reforms proposed by other states.

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Iowa’s ESSA Plan to Replace No Child Left Behind

Iowa leaders are seeking federal approval for a new school accountability plan that will replace No Child Left Behind’s approach to holding schools accountable for student performance. 

The Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2015. It gives state leaders broader authority to use their own measures of success when evaluating schools.

Key Coverage

Is Iowa’s ESSA Plan Doing Enough for Low-Income and Minority Students?

Iowa’s minority and low-income students will have different — sometimes lower — goals than their white, affluent peers under a new school accountability plan developed by the Iowa Department of Education.

That is drawing attention to the sticky crossroads of educational aspirations and the reality of helping students who are sometimes three to four grade levels below their peers.

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Virginia Submits New Education Plan for Federal Review

Students’ academic growth will carry greater weight in evaluating Virginia schools under a new plan the state has submitted for federal approval.

The plan lays out how Virginia will comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal education law signed by President Barack Obama in 2015. It revamps the widely criticized George W. Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act, allowing states to design their own standards of achievement and progress, and decide how to help struggling schools.

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S.D. Department of Education Changes Criteria for Evaluating Public Schools

South Dakota officially has new criteria for what makes a successful public school. 

The state Board of Education Standards on Monday approved rules for public school accountability in accordance with the new federal K-12 education law.

More changes are likely as the state looks for other ways to assess school quality, but Monday’s vote officially pushed South Dakota schools into the era of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). 

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Wisconsin Submits Revised Education Accountability Plan

Wisconsin submitted a federally required school improvement plan to President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday over objections from Gov. Scott Walker and conservative groups that it didn’t do enough to embrace innovative ideas, such as expanding taxpayer-funded private school choice programs.

All 50 states must submit accountability plans under the law, which replaced No Child Left Behind, to continue receiving federal education funding. Wisconsin gets more than $500 million per year in such funding.

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Failing Charter Schools Have a Reincarnation Plan

While it’s widely known that private schools convert to charter status to take advantage of public dollars, more schools are now heading in the opposite direction. As voucher programs across the country proliferate, shuttered charter schools, like the Orange Park Performing Arts Academy, have begun to privatize in order to stay open with state assistance.

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Minnesota Set to Revamp How Public Schools Are Graded

After years of intense pressure on school test scores, the state’s education department on Monday submitted a final plan to the federal government that broadens its previous reach — promising to evaluate more schools than before, and in a well-rounded fashion.

With the federal No Child Left Behind education law being replaced by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) nationwide, Minnesota will focus on the lowest-performing schools that get federal money for low-income students.

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Pennsylvania Submits Its Every Student Succeeds Act Plan to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

Gov. Tom Wolf signed off on Pennsylvania’s roadmap for complying with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act on Monday and submitted it to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for her approval.

The plan, which was made public Monday, establishes what the department describes as “ambitious yet attainable” goals of raising student performance, increasing graduation rates and having English learners move toward achieving English language proficiency.

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Public Needs More Data in Annual Snapshot of Public School Districts, Officials Say

How public schools are rated annually needs to be expanded to shed light on gaps in access to the best teachers, race and income, state officials said.

Under current rules, districts are given letter grades yearly based largely on how students fare on key tests.That would not change.But doing so ignores the wide range of school performance in a district, including access to certified teachers, officials said.