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States Take Over Ensuring Equity In Education

Wyoming Department of Education

The Wyoming Department of Education is seeking public input on how the state should regulate and support school performance. A new federal policy called the Every Student Succeeds Act, which went into law in 2015 and goes into effect for the 2017-2018 school year, aims to ensure equity in education across the United States.

In contrast to No Child Left Behind, power in this act has shifted from the federal government to the states to decide how best to evaluate and improve school performance.

States are in the midst of submitting their individual accountability plans to the federal government, which are due in late summer. On Monday, the Wyoming Department of Education released its draft plan for a 45-day public comment period.

Kari Eakins, Communications Director at the Wyoming Department of Education, said they are hoping to have a much more supportive plan that focuses on what schools and teachers need to improve, rather than a punitive approach. She said ESSA provides the flexibility, “to have these goals, to have these measures of schools developed across the state, and to make sure it aligns with state wide priorities so that when we give that information back to people about how their schools are doing we know that it’s in line with their expectations with how their schools are doing.”

The WDE has been gathering feedback from stakeholders throughout the process and released an Education Accountability Survey earlier this year. The results, which indicated that career and college readiness were important measures of post-secondary readiness, were incorporated into how school performance would be measured under the ESSA plan.

Last week the State Board of Education reviewed the plan and gave its approval to release the draft, which Eakins said marked an exciting moment. “We get to really make sure we are leveraging our federal funds in a way that aligns with what we already doing in our state, and with things that we know work in our state. And it’s about making sure we are helping our schools do better. It’s not about the gotcha moment.”

Comments can be submitted through June 8 the Wyoming Department of Education's website

Tennessee -- despite what the name might make you think -- was born and raised in the Northeast. She most recently called Vermont home. For the last 15 years she's been making radio -- as a youth radio educator, documentary producer, and now reporter. Her work has aired on Reveal, The Heart, LatinoUSA, Across Women's Lives from PRI, and American RadioWorks. One of her ongoing creative projects is co-producing Wage/Working (a jukebox-based oral history project about workers and income inequality). When she's not reporting, Tennessee likes to go on exploratory running adventures with her mutt Murray.
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