Tell Your State to Slow Their Roll With ESSA State Plans

Photo credit: Jerzy Kociatkiewicz

**See updates below**

State Education Agencies seem to be in a rush to submit their state accountability plans, that are required under the Every Student Succeeds Act, to the U.S. Department of Education. The U.S. Department of Education has made some changes to the template they require, and offer some more flexibility.

The “simplification” of the template leaves parents out of the mix and seems to encourage states to submit their plans sooner that what should be considered prudent, especially if they are bypassing adequate public input.

One change that is concerning when comparing the Obama administration state plan template to the Trump administration template is in the area expected consultation.

The preceding template had this to say about consultation:

 Each SEA must engage in timely and meaningful consultation with stakeholders in developing its consolidated State plan, consistent with 34 C.F.R. §§ 299.13 (b) and 299.15 (a).  The stakeholders must include the following individuals and entities and reflect the geographic diversity of the State: 

  • The Governor or appropriate officials from the Governor‚Äôs office;¬†
  • Members of the State legislature;¬†
  • Members of the State board of education, if applicable;¬†
  • LEAs, including LEAs in rural areas;¬†
  • Representatives of Indian tribes located in the State;¬†
  • Teachers, principals, other school leaders, paraprofessionals, specialized instructional support personnel, and organizations representing such individuals;¬†
  • Charter school leaders, if applicable;¬†
  • Parents and families;¬†
  • Community-based organizations;¬†
  • Civil rights organizations, including those representing students with disabilities, English learners, and other historically underserved students;¬†
  • Institutions of higher education (IHEs);¬†
  • Employers;¬†
  • Representatives of private school students;¬†
  • Early childhood educators and leaders; and¬†
  • The public.¬†

The Obama administration also required the template to be written in language parents could understand.   How much parents were actually contacted and whether the language of individual state plans meet that particular is debatable, but at least it was included.

The Trump administration’s template says this about consulting:

Under ESEA section 8540, each SEA must consult in a timely and meaningful manner with the Governor, or appropriate officials from the Governor’s office, including during the development and prior to submission of its consolidated State plan to the Department.  A Governor shall have 30 days prior to the SEA submitting the consolidated State plan to the Secretary to sign the consolidated State plan.  If the Governor has not signed the plan within 30 days of delivery by the SEA, the SEA shall submit the plan to the Department without such signature.

They also provide that a state plan can be submitted without the state’s governor’s signature? Really? The Trump administration also says they can use an alternate template working through the Council of Chief State School Officers, the same group that helped to create the Common Core State Standards.

Hey way *to get rid of* Common Core!

Mary Byrne, Cheri Kiesecker, and Sandra Stotsky created a template letter (updated) you can use to send to your Governor and relevant legislators to encourage them to do the four following things (updated):

(1) Postpone submission of the State Plan to USED until September, as allowed by USED;

(2) If it has not yet done so, ask the department of education to post online the proposed State Plan for public comment, and provide on the governor’s website an accessible online response site forsuggestions by individual reviewers;

(3) Ask the department of education to make available all the signed individual reviewer comments online and/or in writing so the public can see how many parents and teachers replied and who replied;

(4) Make an announcement of the public posting of the State Plan, asking parents to send in their comments online or mail them to the governor by a specified date;

(5) Distribute the draft State Plan to the legislature for working out the fiscal implications of the plan;

(6) Submit the Supplemental Plan that includes fiscal and local accountability to a vote by the state legislature and approved by the governor before either one submits it to USED; and

(7) Publish the final versions of the State Plan and the Supplemental Plan online and in the news media.


You can download the template letter here (updated).

Update: See this additional information from Mary Byrne:

The goal of the letter and its request for a supplemental plan is to ask the governor and members of the legislature to take the reins with regard to Consolidated State Plans, and make the process of developing and implementing the plan accountable to the people of their respective states. In contrast, the CSP template (from Obama and Trump administrations) do not ask for the plan developers to consider budget implications on the state — the feds are only really concerned about their agenda, not about the impact of that agenda on the states.
The template can be expanded for individual state’s situation. Not all states plans have the same set of problems, but given that the Guidance did not have a budget page, it’s a sure bet no state department of education submitted a budget section as a supplemental plan. That’s why we ask the governors to do that.
If readers would like to access the state plans initially developed by their states, they can do a search on the internet and/or look for their state on the CCSSO website that has a partial list of state’s draft ESSA plan.