On March 9, the Trump Administration the Senate voted 50-49 to block the accountability rules for the Every Student Succeeds Act created by the Obama administration. The Fellowship team asked our Fellows to share their thoughts on the decision to get rid of the ESSA accountability regulations and how the Trump Administration's Education Department should move forward with implementing the new ESSA accountability regulations. Here is what our Fellows had to say:

I am fearful that many of our high-need students will not receive the education they need. These are students living in poverty, minorities, ELLs and those identified in Special Education.
The original Elementary and Secondary Education Act was part of President Johnson’s ‘War on Poverty’. Our country should again have a war on poverty. One of the best ways to combat poverty is with education. This act and the desegregation that occurred is the last time our country has made significant progress in closing the achievement gap. Already I hear teachers use the excuse of a child’s home, language, IEP as to why they are not meeting standards. Without assessment and accountability, I am afraid that classrooms, schools, districts will continue to make excuses, lower the bar for our students that need to succeed more than any other.
— Teresa Ranieri, NY Policy Fellow
I am afraid that by removing the accountability measures in ESSA, the Trump administration is taking the first step in its goal to privatize public education. If states lower standards and do not give our most in need students the high quality education they deserve then it will produce the data they need to show Public education isn’t working. They are manipulating the statistics to meet their own agenda and the detriment of our students. ESSA was a bi-partisan bill with support from the education community and should be implemented as written.
— Craig Williams, WY Alumni Fellow
Nervous enough that accountability was left to states in the first place. Loosening their requirements will not advance equity for our most needful students.
— John Clark, FL Alumni Fellow
I am very concerned about the lack of stakeholder involvement in the decision-making. How will states know what truly works well in their schools if they are not surveying the teachers and administrators doing the work in the classroom. I also worry we are “reinventing the wheel” by allowing states to have such disparate plans. Comparisons will undoubtably be made, but the measures will be different.
— Meg Freeman, Lead Fellow
I am concerned that if states are allowed to use their own reporting template there will be no comparable benchmark. If there is no common unit of measurement, then there is no real accountability.
— Shannon Keown, CO Alumni Fellow
I am nervous. I didn’t particularly like the old accountability regulations, as I thought they focused a little too much on test scores. However, plans were in place to add other measures, and in North Carolina, the conversation was getting toward the point of a decision that would have benefitted all kids and schools. I am nervous the the philosophy of the new administration will lead to either no accountability or the wrong accountability measures, that will lead to many of our students getting a subpar education. I really worry about our kids if the accountability isn’t there to guarantee them a good education.
— Rob Leichner, NC Alumni Fellow
The following statement from Mr. Trump’s new plan concerns me: “In its consolidated state plan, each SEA may, but is not required to, include supplemental information such as its overall vision for improving outcomes for all students and its efforts to consult with and engage stakeholders when developing its consolidated state plan.”

I have been able to participate in giving feedback on my state’s ESSA plan due to their well-organized hub and spoke structure. In the Obama plan, “states must engage in timely and meaningful consultation with stakeholders in developing its consolidated state plan,” and that stakeholders must “reflect the geographic diversity of the state.” I believe that community and educator voice is paramount to the success of our schools and that when we limit opportunities for communication, we lose support and understanding of our shared vision and goals. I believe that Mr. Trump’s plan does not encourage meaningful, two-way dialogue by not requiring that SEAs consult with stakeholders.
— Emily Volkert, CO Policy Fellow
I am very disappointed by this decision and concerned about its impact on our most vulnerable populations.
— Erin Trapanese, CO Alumni Fellow
I appreciate flexibility from the federal government for state plans, but fear that easing up on accountability regulations can create a greater inequity among our public schools. Accountability keeps high expectations for all schools and all students! I place my hope in our great state and department of education that just because some regulartions have been changed that Colorado will continue to do what is best for all students.
— Janae Ash, CO Fellow
As someone who works in a “high needs” school with “at risk” students, I can appreciate the desire to provide some flexibility in regards to meeting high standards; however, it is the existence of and accountability to these high standards that keeps our school focused on ensuring that we are providing the kind of education to our students that will enable them to achieve these high expectations. Creating too much flexibility could unintentionally lower standards for the very students who are in most need of being supported to thrive.
— Christina Roberts, NY Alumni Fellow
We are in dangerous waters when there are important education issues being made without regard to the impact it will have on a broader scale. Special education will be hit hard, and that is unacceptable.
— Amber Chandler, Lead Fellow
I feel that the Trump Administration is moving to quick to make this change happen. We have not yet had a year’s worth of implementation to see any possible success or failure with the accountability. If the change is needed, then the Trump Administration needs to look closely as to what needs to be changed and how can it still be aligned to the current ESSA accountability regulations.
— Troy Rivera, Lead Fellow
One of the most frustrating aspects of education is the short term goals of those making decisions. It is hard to implement what is passed down in an attempt to meet political constituents. The constant change creates compliance versus commitment to institutional change. It would be nice if a bipartisan attempt to reform education could be made with input from those in the classroom.
— Stacey Hervey, Lead Fellow
It is deeply concerning to me that accountability is being removed, especially after all of the work that has been associated to implementing it, all for the betterment of our students and profession. Moving forward, new regulations will ideally be implemented under the advisement of practitioners.
Now, more than ever, fellowships like America Achieves Educator Voice need to be present and in front of any decisions that take place, or be speaking up in any forum as to the importance of accountability.
— Loryn Windwehen, Lead Fellow

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