Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Releases Updated ESSA Guidelines Template; Do States Get More Flexibility?

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald March 15, 04:00 am

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released the new and updated guidelines template for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Monday. She made some changes to the old procedures, set under the President Barack Obama's administration, to give states more flexibility.

The new ESSA template has shorter themes and fewer regulatory requirements than the ESSA guidelines template released last year. It also modified the requirements where states have to seek feedback from students, teachers, stakeholders, education groups and advocates.

"We know each school district is unique," DeVos said in making the revisions, according to EdWeek. "We shouldn't assume the same answer will work for everyone, every time," she said and added, "Under this administration, we will break this habit."

This revision means states won't necessarily have to get inputs from the community on ESSA as it is only an option. The revised ESSA template also won't require states to be specific about school improvement funding. Hence, it's seen as a more flexible template.

Some government leaders, however, oppose the revisions for its lack of accountability checks. "Eliminating the requirement for public input is the perfect illustration of the Trump administration's attempt to shutter transparency and remove the public from policy making," Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat who heads the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education in the House said, according to Chalkbeat. 

States were supposed to submit their first ESSA guidelines on April 3 based on the original template. Most states were already doing consultations or have calendared meetings with different groups in the next weeks even with the revisions of the Obama regulations.

States were also not mandated to use the template if it can create its own application. States were also given a leeway to submit its ESSA guidelines on Sept. 18. Some noted at least six pages worth of content were cut from the old template.

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