ESSA Update: 6 Months Later, Parents Get a Say

This is a great time to speak up and advocate for your child! Both the U.S. Department of Education and your state department of education want to hear your thoughts on how the new education law can help kids with learning and thinking differences.

It’s been six months since the federal education law, No Child Left Behind, was rewritten and renamed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). At the time, we shared what that meant for students with learning and thinking differences and the schools that serve them.

Since then, states and districts have been able to consider the impact of the new law. So this a good time to check in on what it might mean for parents in the coming school year.

Right now, two things are happening that parents need to know about.

States Are Developing Their Education Plans

First, states are developing their “state plan,” which is like a blueprint for education. These plans include information about how a state will address certain topics. Those include standards, assessments, and school and district accountability.

The plans also covers how a state will help struggling schools improve. To get federal funding, each state will submit their plan and have it approved by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) by the end of the 2016–2017 school year.

Each state will also be reaching out to parents between now and summer 2017. Your state department of education will ask for parent input on its plan. One thing you can provide feedback on is how your state will address the needs of students with learning and thinking differences. (If for some reason you’re not asked for your feedback, this can be a good time to reach out to your local and state education officials to ask how you can be involved.)

The Department of Education Is Accepting Feedback From the Public

The second thing that’s happening also gives parents a way to weigh in. The new law set some requirements for how states must evaluate how well schools are serving students. Last month ED released some proposed regulations to give states guidance on how to meet the requirements. (Understood founding partner, the National Center for Learning Disabilities, joined a roundtable event with Secretary of Education John King and other education leaders to discuss the importance of the regulations.)

ED is accepting feedback from the public from now until August 1. Since the passage of ESSA, it has emphasized the need to involve parents and other advocates in the process. To get more involved, you can reach out to your school superintendent or your state’s department of education.

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About the author

About the author

Lindsay Jones, JD is chief executive officer of the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD).