ESSA Update

Dear Superintendents,

This week there is an important memo related to assessment in the early grades. Please take note that this is the first of several key shifts to be made as we implement ESSA and a new assessment system.

ESSA UPDATE

Thank you for the focused effort to bring our state ESSA plan to near completion. We are on-track to submit a final plan to the U.S. Department of Education before most school districts convene for the school year. It has been my goal to ensure that you begin this academic year with an unobjectionable path forward with federal programs, assessment, standards, teacher certification, accountability, local reporting, and more.

Of the thirteen states that already submitted plans, most received feedback and several states may make significant changes to their plans. We have taken their lessons learned, worked closely with the USED and stakeholders, and carefully crafted a plan to help ensure a well rounded education for all Wyoming students.

I remain proud of the stakeholder driven plan. All told, we held fourteen public meetings, received 135 public comments, engaged with the tribes, and hosted 550 online survey participants. WDE also helped facilitate over a dozen stakeholder consultation groups.

While accountability is just one component of ESSA, a cohesive state system of accountability is a main objective. In the coming weeks, a number of reports to the legislature are due that will help solidify the use of one system. It is important to know that the state and federal accountability systems work in conjunction with one another and neither will be replaced by the other. The Wyoming Accountability in Education Act and resulting state accountability system are a mainstay in our state and a strength from which we devised the ESSA accountability plan. The two will merge to become the cohesive system designed to hold schools accountable for student growth and school improvement.

Navy Seals help with the Challenge Rodeo for kids during Cheyenne Frontier Days

Navy Seals help with the Challenge Rodeo for kids during Cheyenne Frontier Days

Challenge Rodeo at Cheyenne Frontier Days

Challenge Rodeo at Cheyenne Frontier Days

WDE Individual Learning Division helps with the Challenge Rodeo

WDE Individual Learning Division helps with the Challenge Rodeo

FEDERAL FUNDING OF EDUCATION

In late July, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations approved its Fiscal Year 2018 Labor-HHS-Education funding bill in a party-line 30-22 vote.  The Committee rejected a number of amendments to increase funding for education programs, including proposed increases for early childhood programs, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Title IIA of ESSA, and other key K-12 federal funding streams.  The Committee did include a $200 million increase in IDEA funding and a $100 million increase for ESSA Title IV, Part B (Student Support and Academic Achievement State Grants).  It did not fund the school choice programs proposed in President Trump’s budget. The House has not yet scheduled a date for consideration of the Committee-approved bill on the House floor. The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations has yet to publish or act on its Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations legislation.

I am very concerned about the possible elimination of funding for Title IIA of ESSA, the primary federal program to support effective teachers, which is authorized under ESSA to receive approximately $2.3 billion in Fiscal Year 2018. A mainstay of Wyoming’s ESSA plan is growing a strong and sustainable workforce of teachers and leaders.

Memos to be released on Monday, August 7

Jillian