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After Months of Public Comment, Final ESSA Regulations Released

As anticipated, the U.S. Department of Education has released the final regulations to direct implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act today, likely to be the last major announcement from a Department of Education under the Obama administration.

The final regulations include several changes made by taking into account public comment made on the previous draft regulations, such as an extended timeline for when states must implement their accountability systems in accordance with ESSA.

Originally, the draft regulations required states to implement their accountability systems no later than the 2017-2018 school year.

Now, after concerns that such a strict timeline would hinder efforts, states will have until the 2018-2019 school year in order to have "sufficient time to choose and consider new indicators of academic progress, English language proficiency, and school quality or student success."

The final regulations also help to clarify what indicators of academic progress and school quality or student success should look like.

Measures can be any indicator that is proven by research to "increase student learning, such as grade point average, credit accumulation, or performance in advanced coursework, or for high schools, graduation rates, postsecondary enrollment, persistence, or completion, or career success," the Department said.

"This ensures that the focus of accountability systems under ESSA can include a wide range of measures beyond test scores and emphasizes a holistic view of student and school success, without losing the focus on helping all students reach college and career readiness.”

Overall, the final regulations addressed concerns that the legislation was being misinterpreted and taking too much power away from the states. The finalized regulations, as Education Week reported, boost “state flexibility in key areas.” 

The chairman of the Senate education committee Lamar Alexander, who was highly critical of the draft regulations, released this statement today—appearing to still not be sold on the finalized version: "This regulation goes to the heart of the new law fixing No Child Left Behind, which reversed the trend toward a national school board and restored to states, communities and classroom teachers responsibility for the education of our children,” he said, according to The Chattanoogan.

"I would have moved to overturn the earlier version of this regulation because it was not authorized by the new law, and included provisions specifically prohibited by the new law. I will carefully review this final version before deciding what action is appropriate.”

Read more about the final regulations here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

11/28/2016

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