The Every Student Succeeds Act -- or ESSA -- shifted education authority from the federal government to states and local districts, leaving behind the controversial No Child Left Behind Act. But under ESSA, states are still required to demonstrate to the U.S. Department of Education all students have access to an adequate education.
The Wyoming Department of Education submitted its ESSA plan in September. Last week, it received a letter from the federal government asking for more information on several points before approval can be given.
Kari Eakins, communications director for the WDE, said Wyoming purposefully left out details about state accountability in their initial plan.
“We don’t want to put all of our state accountability into our federal plan because then that means that the U.S. Department of Education would have some say over how [state] money is spent,” Eakins said. “So really, we tried to have this plan talk about what are we doing with our federal funds and how is that meeting the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act.”
Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jillian Balow, said the request for more information is not unusual, or more severe than what other states have gone through. She said the challenge is to come up with one accountability system that works for the state and the federal government.
“It’s sticky to take a look at our state accountability system that, by and large, has been working for us, and really couple that with the federal requirements,” said Balow. “But we heard loud and clear from stakeholders from across the state that they want one comprehensive accountability system.”
The WDE has until December 28 to respond.