Secretary DeVos Unveils Parents' Guide to ESSA Flexibilities
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today released a parent and guardian-friendly guide to the important flexibilities in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The "Dear Parent" letter, written in plain language, was released at a roundtable with parents, students and educators in Mississippi as part of the Secretary's "Rethink School" tour. The guide is available here.
"At the core of ESSA is an acknowledgment that Washington doesn't know best when it comes to educating our nation's students," said Secretary DeVos. "Our focus is on returning power to the hands of parents, states and local educators, where it belongs. Parents should not have to parse through a 500-page legal document to understand how a law or policy affects their children's education."
DeVos continued, "Because states and districts have significant flexibility in how they meet the requirements of the law, parents should know and have a voice in how they use that flexibility to best help their children. These new resources will help empower those closest to students with information they need to be informed advocates as education decisions are made at the state and local level."
ESSA marked a seminal step taken by Congress to devolve power over education out of Washington and return it into the hands of states and local educators. The flexibilities included in ESSA are wide-ranging, including: allowing states the opportunity to implement innovative tests, not just a statewide test; broad discretion for states to design accountability systems to hold schools accountable for student achievement; a public school choice option for students in schools identified for comprehensive improvement; the ability to use federal funds to provide "direct student services" that it otherwise couldn't, such as enabling students to enroll in different courses; and the opportunity to combine funds to better support students.
The guide includes a 19-slide presentation that highlights the different ways states and districts can meet the letter of the law. Along with the guide, a summary document highlights the options that ESSA provides to states and school districts, and a more technical document explains how ESSA's flexibility can affect the way that states, districts and schools meet the law's requirements for academic standards, testing and more.
You can find these materials, along with all the other ESSA resources, here.