Monday, April 18, 2016

The déjà vu of 'Supplement, not supplant": ESSA RULEMAKING DOWN TO THE WIRE

from Politco Morning Ed (via e-mail)

April 18, 2016  ::  ESSA RULEMAKING DOWN TO THE WIRE: A negotiated rulemaking committee on the Every Student Succeeds Act meets for the third and final time today and Tuesday. The goal: agreement on assessments, and supplement, not supplant - the language that says school districts can't use federal Title I dollars to replace state and local funds. SNS is by far the most difficult issue and the committee likely won't tackle it until Tuesday, since it's the last item on the agenda.

The Education Department heard from a very divided committee during the first and second rulemaking sessions and translated that feedback into draft language revisions, which were released [] Friday.

Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander didn't like the department's original proposed language, and he doesn't like [] the new language. Despite making some changes, [ ] a provision remains that Alexander and other advocates worry will essentially require districts to use a method for demonstrating compliance with SNS that also shows how much they spend per student - which goes beyond the scope of the department's regulatory authority. The updated materials for today's meeting:

- Alexander told Morning Education over the weekend: "The law Congress wrote, the president signed and that teachers, governors, parents and other educators worked so hard to enact last year, appears to have no meaning to unelected bureaucrats who still seem determined to act as a national school board for 100,000 public schools. I will use every tool at my disposal to see that this law is implemented the way Congress wrote it, and I hope others will join me." If the rulemaking committee fails to agree on assessments, SNS or both, the Education Department can move forward with writing the regulation. If Alexander still isn't happy with it, he can do a couple things. He has already threatened [] to use one tool at his disposal - appropriations - to block the department's rules when they are final. And he can use the Congressional Review Act to undo executive branch regulations.

- Nora Gordon, an associate professor at Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, writes in Education Next that the department's proposed SNS language could "backfire on equity." For example, she writes that the language could incentivize districts using weighted student funding formulas to concentrate higher needs students in Title I schools - and that goes against the Obama administration's goal of promoting economic integration. (The Education Department has said that districts using weighted student funding formulas wouldn't have any major issues complying with SNS and federal officials took such formulas into account when revising the language.) More:

- On assessments, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities is pushing the committee to carry out "meaningful" regulations for students with disabilities who take alternative tests. The group is looking for the committee to "prove clarity on key terms, such as 'students with the most significant cognitive disabilities,'" - a definition the committee has yet to agree on - while also describing "the process school districts and states must follow if they have reason to exceed" a 1 percent cap on the number of students allowed to take alternative tests, "in limited circumstances." More:

No comments: